tv Public Affairs CSPAN September 4, 2013 1:00pm-5:01pm EDT
assad regime is responsible for this attack, and that was before our evidence package was put together. 34 34 countries organizations have indicated that if the allegations prove to be true they would support some sort of action against syria appeared to be specific and bear down on the president's proposal and this particular action, currently in the region there are a number of countries, friends of ours, that have offered to be part of this operation. and those countries can speak for themselves. but there are more countries that have offered to be part of this operation that our military currently believes we need to have part of it, in order to affect the operation. is interest in having a
multinational effort and i think the president is committed to doing so. but there are friends of ours, including france as you know, which is sticking with its position, and others in the region who are prepared to be part of this operation with us. >> let me ask you this. one of the first reactions i've gotten from the members here is on the open-ended nature of that authorization. on the senate side, as you know, there is now discussion. there is no support of the boots on the ground on the house side, but there is no reference to its in the authorization. now they are talking about a comprehensive syrian strategy and resolutions here on the house side are coming at this from a different direction than the original authorization. i would like your views.
to you express your response the resolutions you now see on the senate side and here on the house side, on rewriting the original authorization? i have made a point of importance not to discuss my personal views. that is for you to determine. i will tell you that militarily, the broader the resolution, the more options i can provide. but that said, i will also assure you that the president has given me quite clear guidance that this will be a limited and focused operation, not open-ended. i will maybe go to secretary hagel for a few comments on this, if you could sum up, but again, it is clear there is no support on the house side for s on on the ground -- boot
the ground. the rewriting of the authorization, your response? >> i have seen one draft. i have not seen anything in the last few hours. i know that all of our agencies represented at this table as well as the national security council are working with the appropriate people. i have confidence that we will be able to come up with a mutually agreed upon resolution to accomplish the objective. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary kerry and secretary the -- maybe you can comment to this. i believe the that american credibility on the international stage hangs in the balance, and while it is crucial to make sure that assad never uses chemical weapons again, i believe there's something bigger at stake, that
is, the message to iran as they continue to pursue a nuclear capability. they're watching how we respond to the assad regime's crossing of the president fuzzy red line, and the world is also aware that president obama is -- the president's red line, and the world is also aware that seeking tobama is stop weapons of mass destruction. think the calculus on the nuclear program will change based on what we do now? >> congressman, there's an enormous amount of question in the region, not just by iranians, but by emer rodis, sort -- the saudis, the u.s.tis, as to whether the
means what it says. and they ask me all the time, are you guys serious about iran? i'm sure when they come and visit with you, they look to you for reassurances with respect to america's position on iran. the there is no question on -- in my mind that the president of the united states does not bluff, and he is committed that iran will not have nuclear weapons. but if we fail to enforce a standard that has been in existence for almost 100 years regarding to either -- regarding weapons of mass destruction, we are putting that into question in the minds of allow observers servers -- in the minds of a lot of observers and creating problems for ourselves. we may get closer to a test that may not be constrained or ourged as a consequence of actions today. i believe it is critical -- two
things i would say without any question in my mind. thosefail to pass this, who are working with us today with the syrian opposition, we have been working hard to keep them from funding bad elements, whether it is a misrata or others, which they have funded out of frustration because they think they are the best fighters and the only people that are going to get the job done. if we back off and failed to enforce our word here, i promise you the discipline that we have put in place with respect to the moderate opposition vs. bad guys will dissipate immediately the it and people will resort to anybody they can find to help them accomplish their goal. and we will have created more extremism and a greater problem down the road. the word will be misinterpreted in many ways, not just iran.
>> thank you. hagel couldetary answer this. secretary kerry just mentioned the opposition. i put in the bill several months ago that would allow us to aid the well vetted syrian opposition. i do not think the potential use of military force we are considering can be looked on in a vacuum. this opposition -- operation must be like as one piece of a comprehensive set rg. -- comprehensive strategy. downgrade syria's use of chemical weapons, will we be in turn downgrading iran? will we be -- downgrading aside's ability to murder his own people? ability to murder
his own people? >> you are correct, this one option that we are debating parallel withs in a number of other tracks that are ongoing. i think most all of us believe -- the president believes -- and everyone at this table believes there is no military solution in syria. it will require a political resolution. the actions that we take will be in parallel with the opposition, the strengthening of the buhp -- the opposition. it would be parallel to what secretary kerry noted, the continuing defections from military.assad's
it would be with the international community continuing to strengthen their voices and joining us with this condemnation. all of the other consequences that come from this would be part of this. that is the way i would answer your question. >> we will go now to the chairman emeritus of this committee in florida. >> thank you. welcome, gentlemen. we have been aware of assad's chemical stockpile for years, but we have failed to hold him accountable. the united nations has been completely useless at affecting any change in syria, thanks in no small part to russia and china's persistent stonewalling of the security council. and congress has certainly had our fair share of missed opportunities. last congress, the house passed iran,ran-north 3 add--- north korea, syria action.
but no action was taken on it. had the united states taken on a more pro-active role in syria by instituting strict sanctions against a saudi bank's regime, it may have changed his calculations -- against assad's regime, it may have changed his calculations on using chemical weapons. the president must clearly identify what our national security interests are to keep from further escalating the system -- that situation. what does target airstrikes look like? what does degradation look like? and what will we do if it does not yield the intended result? groundate resolution troops for combat operations. this sounds like it leaves the open possibility of butz on the aound for other things like
special operations. is this intentional? will you confirm that under no circumstances will we place butz on the ground in syria? even a limited engagement, if it ends up being the only limited, could cost taxpayers billions appeared with the members of the arab league so eager for the u.s. participation, have they offered to offset any of the costs associated with this action? iran and north korea are carefully watching our next move. if we say that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, yet we fail to act, we will either emboldened iran's pursuit of chemical wake breakout possibilities. the failure to act will be seen as a green light by the iranian regime, who will see that we do not have the will to back up our words. what about butz on the ground,
the arab league, will they tonia -- pony up? and there's a rumor circulating today that perhaps the house will not have a vote on authorization. the senate will and not on the outside. if you could comment on that. >> i do not know anything about this for mark nusoor will not comment on it, because it is a rumor and it's the first-ever of it. the respect to either -- first i have heard of it. with respect to arab countries and their offer to help with the cross, yes, they have appeared that offer is on the table. s on thepect to boot ground, now the. there will be no butz on the ground. the president has said that again and again. boots onate, i know the ground -- no boots on the
ground. thatve absolute confidence what our military undertakes to ,o, if it is ordered to do so ofl degrade the capacity assad to use these weapons and serve as a very strong deterrentce. and if it doesn't, then there are subsequent possibilities as to how you could enforce that. >> thank you. the details of the offer and the proposal on the table, what are the figures we are talking about? >> we do not know what action we are engaged in right now, but has been quite significant finding, very significant -- quite significant. i mean, very significant. some have said that the u.s. has been prepared to go do what we
have done in previous places. obviously, that is not in the cards and nobody is talking about it, but they are talking seriously getting this job done. my time is over? >> we better go to mr. meeks of new york in order to get through the full panel. >> mr. sherman of california than. >> the president drew a red line. presidents often draw red lines in order to deter action. usually, they deter that action to our benefit and at no cost. when the president drew that red line for i'm not aware of anyone in this room who criticized it or disassociate themselves from that red line. now assad has crossed that red
line. it is america's red line. if we do not act, he will use chemical weapons many times in the future. they may be decisively successful for him. and dictators for decades to come will learn from assad's letson. use onl weapons civilians in and mass scale the is effective. targets, gentlemen, you will be torn between the jermaine and the effective. germsne ould be -- would be directly related to chemical weapons. but we want assad to keep control of his chemical weapons. you'll be seeking out targets related to the storage or delivery or control of chemical weapons. instead, i think you should focus on punishing and having a assad by
valuable asset that will demonstrate to him that it was a military mistake to use chemical weapons. even air or naval assets unrelated to the delivery of chemical weapons will make that lesson clear to him. we have all learned a searing lesson from over 4000 casualties in iraq. know thereld also are 150 occasions -- and i would like to put in the record acrs listing an analysis of 150 40 years in the last where america has deployed its military into dangerous or hostile situations. in most cases, limited purpose, limited deployment, and the cost was so limited we forgot the incident involved. i hope that what you are planning is something much more along those lines than iraq.
resolution sent to us on august 31 is obviously flawed. i sent secretary kerry amendments on the first. like to explore with you what elements a good resolution would have, knowing that this resolution adds to the authority you already have under the war powers resolution of 1973. is it acceptable for this resolution to confirm what you have already said? that is, the resolution itself does not add in any way to the powers of the president to put boots on the ground in syria? is that an acceptable resolution? secretary kerry? >> absolutely. >> would a time limit of 60 days
indicating you might have other authorities to act beyond those 60 days, what we are authorizing now is limited to 60 days. is that acceptable? >> we would prefer that you have some kind of trigger in there with respect to his -- if he were to come back and use chemical weapons again, there would be the capacity to respond to that. >> you could always come back to congress. or you could have a provision every time he uses chemical weapons to get another 60 days. >> that would be acceptable. >> the first or the second? >> the second. >> and finally, would you accept a provision that says you may want to consider a regime change, including army the result -- the rebels under the authority that you have, but that this resolution is limited to to the punishing and deterring of the use of chemical
weapons and not to change the outcome of the civil war? >> the pair -- the president has a narrow authorization so that no one gets confused about being offered a vote on two different things. is with respect to the use of chemical weapons and to make theword respective to region. montero it -- the more narrowly tailored it is, the more careful you are. record, a fewhe could explain -- >> we will introduce the questions for the record afterwards. but we need to go now to mr. smith. >> the "new york times" editorial today -- yesterday said it was "alarming that
president obama did not long ago put into place with our allies and partners a plan for international action." very alarming that we have failed to do in the last several years what ought to have been done. that is a "the new york times" editorial, hardly a conservative newspaper. i have three questions. i would ask that you best of your ability answer 03. -- answer all three. president obama said yesterday that he wants to make president assad regret using chemical weapons. the first question, do we have clear proof that assad himself ordered it? the second question has to do with chris wallace on sunday. you said the variance in the planes were in the air on coste was a -- the there very second the planes were in the air on coste row, there was
a vote in the house. your word, very instant, is certainly an elastic term. it was a full month later. began onng of serbia march 24 and the house voted against it on april 28. during that time, there were significant assurances that the entire operation would be a short duration, very limited. and i know many people had thought, including in brussels at nato headquarters, that it would last just a few days. it lasted 78 days. -527 civilian deaths occurred from the bombing. and significantly, the milosevich retaliation killed about 10,000 people and put most albanians to flight. you define ltd. and short duration?
and what might assad do in retaliation in attacking other areas that we might not have anticipated? and finally, i plan to introduce a resolution to authorize the president to establish a specialized court, he syrian war crimes tribunal to help hold accountable all those on either side, including assad, who have slaughtered and raped in syria. i wonder what you might think about that as well, whether or not the administration would support such a court. we have learned things from the special court in sierra leone. and certainly, we have learned from the court in yugoslavia. it has to be immediate and i think it could be a rallying place. you yourself as the the -- have said that we should send them to jail. let's send in jail. -- of them to jail. i think there are other
alternatives. congressman, i actually did not have time yesterday because of our testimony to read the "the new york times" editorial. i would like to read it. .ut there is a plan in place the london 11 so-called have .een working internationally last year, secretary clinton joined in the, in can meeting toh the russians and others set up a process for transition in syria. that is what we are currently pursuing now. together with our allies and friends in this endeavor. that includes france, great britain, italy, germany, the emirates, saudis, and others. it may not be working as well as
we would like and has not had its impact yet fully, but in we have seenhat, the president take steps in response to the initial attacks of chemical weapons to increase lethal aid to the opposition. that is now known. time. almost out of with all due respect, ltd. damache corp., a special tribunal on war crimes for syria. duration, aa short special tribunal on war crimes for syria. >> perhaps we could have more luck with that, a special court. i would certainly welcome holding people county -- accountable for those kinds of abuses.
>> mr. meeks of new york. i would like to submit my statement for the record. >> without objection. >> i agree with the president's decision to come to congress for the authorization for the use of military force to address chemical weapons use by syrian forces. i think it was the right decision, both constitutionally and morally. in making my decision on the use of force, i try to look at it from both short and long term interest for the security of america. to that end, i believe the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime is a flagrant violation of international norms against such use of weapons and it is against u.s. interests. but it is not only against u.s. interests, but also against
international interests. if we act in a unilateral way, i have huge concerns. there's a violation and we just especiallyeact, militarily, in a multilateral way. i don't know where nato is, but i've heard medeiros say they have condemned it. i don't hear them saying they will step up with us militarily. i have heard the arab union, the arab league step up with us. . have heard people condemn and you have said the world is watching what we are doing. but i have yet to hear concrete things of what the world is doing. i am fearful they will isolate the united states if we are only doing something unilaterally while the world sits back and
watches. when there is an international violation that took place. it matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of its worst weapons. and i could not agree with you more. but i do not see and hear where the world is stepping up and agreeing to act with us militarily, not just condemning the actions. but acting on that condemnation of the actions with as in the military fashion. in the military fashion. russia has obstructed efforts to investigate the use of chemical events. what, if elaborate on any, role russia has in bringing about a political solution in syria?
and how has that been engaged, given the administration's attitude that there is no military solution? one of my concerns of the possibility of unintended consequences, including the prospect of prolonged military engagement. in august, you sent a letter saying there were actions that could be taken short of a presence that could alter their behavior. also said that it could asalate and commit decisively to the conflict. could you elaborate on what you meant when you said that we could decisively be date -- committed to the conflict? how do you minimize the
possibility of prolonged commitment? and if international support is as limited as it appears to be now, how would you keep this from being more pronounced? >> i want to take george for the record, i predict. in the time remaining, i believe it is the focus and the purpose of the military action that will give us the best chance of limiting it in time and commitment. in other words, my letter to the representative talked about answering the question of what it would take to tip the scales in favor of the opposition. if we were to take military action ourselves to support the opposition, that is a very long prospect. what we're talking about here is not that. the purpose is to determine the grade for the specific purpose of chemical weapons.
limit it. is to that is not to say that i can discount the escalation. i can never discount that, but we will litigate it as much as possible -- mitigate it as much as possible. gentlemen. i know you would all like to tell -- like me to tell you that a number of people came up to me in the airport this morning and urged me to stand with president obama on this issue, or that my phones have been ringing off of with callers supporting the administration's position, but i think we all know that would not be accurate. nevertheless, trying to approach your potential resolution with an open mind and will consider any argument the administration might make for the use of force against the assad regime. i have some serious concerns. and many of my colleagues on
this committee probably share a number of them. before we support a resolution on the use of force or not, it will depend on how these concerns are addressed in the coming days by the administration. .his is part of that process secretary kerry, president obama did not come to congress seeking a resolution on the use of force in libya. what is the difference between a in libya and syria when it comes to seeking congressional authorization? >> the difference is that in the case of libya, you had already passed a u.n. security council resolution and an arab league resolution, and a gulf states corp. resolution -- cooperation resolution. and you had a man who you knew was prone to follow through on his word, promising that he would kill like dogs all of the benghazi.
.here was an urgency to respond the united states provided air support, while the french and british carry out the mission. ther those circumstances, president felt the urgency, the andgency to protect life, and a capacity that had already been granted. that is where he's coming to congress. >> had the british prime look -- had the british parliament not rejected prime minister cameron, would he have bothered to come to congress? >> i believe he would have. there were discussions, to some degree, about whether or not it should happen. he had not made of his mind. he did not announce it to us. but my personal belief is, yes. and there are people making that argument on his legal team.
haveu indicated that you not had time to read the "the new york times" editorial, so i'm assuming that you have not had time to read tom friedman's column. >> actually, i've read it today. >> i do not always agree with him, in fact i seldom do, but i tend to agree with his assessment of the syrian situation today where he says that rather than firing missiles, a better solution is to our more moderate groups in syria. -- is to arm more moderate groups in syria. my only concern is that it may be too late. groups to arm these months, or even years ago has allowed al qaeda to bome more powerful. would you comment? >> i am delighted to. on what tom friedman said, and i
often do agree with him, but i do not on this particular occasion. he said you should arm and shame. i do not think assad is going to be changed in this particular situation. and there is our main taking place. but if you simply arm and state that your policy is too ashamed , and to back off, deteriorating his capacity to deliver chemical weapons and say, ok, that does not matter to us, you have opened a pandora's box for the use of chemical weapons. and all those people that you are moby victims of a chemical weapons attack. -- and all those people that you arm will be victims of a chemical weapons attack. it is important that we send a message and deteriorate his capacity. and we would have given him in shooting with respect to any future use. >> -- impunity with respect to any future use. what made the president
change his mind and consult with congress? >> you have to ask him. ardono completely. >> i assume you discussed it. it, and thescuss president said very strongly that it was important for us to be in our strongest posture, that the united states needed to speak with one voice. you all ask for consultations. the president began a caught -- a process of consultation. we hear from many of you, and you said that it was very important to come to congress. i know that mike rogers in one particular conversation talked- need -- talked about the to not have a display. you're fighting with congress, fighting with your allies, fighting with the u.n., and try to unify it if you can.
i think that was great advice. the president tried to put america in the strongest position possible. mr. secretary, one of the things i read today that disturbs me a great deal was by the end of the year, we are going to have about 3 million from the syrian conflict. i am concerned of the impact striking syria would have on increasing the number of refugees. and i'm concerned about how the it is going to destabilize our friends in the region. jordan is already experiencing it, turkey also. are we creating policies to alleviate what is coming, this avalanche of refugees? by the end of the year, they expect 3 million refugees.
that could be a big destabilizing factor in that region. >> this brings you squarely into a confrontation with this question that is fundamental to the treaty will make. .here are risks of acting but believe me, it is our judgment collectively, and the president's, that the greater risks are not acting. to 2ave 1.6 million million refugees a day without our acting. without are acting. and every indication is that it is going to get worse. iswe do not act and assad able to rein gas down on his people, watch the number of refugees.
the greatest capacity of refugees building in the region -- the greatest way to affect his capacity to create refugees act and getn is to a stable and of syria were you can have a transition government. that is the goal. and we have no chance of getting there if we back off and give him a message of impunity. cares, have said, nobody gas your people, you do what you need to to stay in office, and we are backing off. that would be one of those moments in history that would live in infamy. and there are some of those moments. munich, a ship off the coast of florida that was sent back and filled with used and they lost their lives to gas because we did not receive them. there are moments you have to
make a decision, and i believe this is one of those moments. >> are we making any new policy? i know we already contribute more money than anybody else to assist the refugees. >> the world needs to step up on this refugee issue. the united states is probably providing more than anyone else, but it is unsustainable. there are other discussions taking place as to how we might respond to this ongoing crisis in non-military terms, but i think there are options available to us. not want to get ahead of ourselves. >> this military action, i assume we are coordinating with our friends in the region. >> we are, congressman. >> and do you and is afraid they will go along with us -- do you anticipate they will go along with us if it increases, the
need for them to participate? there with us, some with basing in some with overflight. >> mr. joe wilson of south carolina. >> thank you. your longtime leadership to avoid a crisis that we face today. thank you for being here today. we are here to learn more about a very serious issue, a u.s. strike on syria. as a member of this committee and chairman of the house armed services military personnel subcommittee, has a 31-year veteran of the south carolina national office guard and army reserve, but also the father of four sons currently serving in the u.s. military, i'm very concerned about what we are hearing today. i have many questions about the proposed strike and the risk to the military, american families,
and our allies, particularly neighboring israel, jordan, turkey, and iraq. some have characterized this strike as a pin prick that will not prevent american has sought usingsident assad from his chemical weapons. what will you do if he resumes chemical weapons? where do these chemical weapons come from? >> congressman, thank you for your service and for your son s' service. i can speak for general dempsey and all of our military leaders that there is no higher purpose that we all have, nor more significant responsibility than the protection of the men and women who served in uniform. they are our hires -- highest priority.
as your questions, the president stated again yesterday in a meeting in the cabinet room with leaders of congress, and i think there, asn engel was was chairman royce. royce, thisairman would not be a pinprick. this would be a significant strike that would, in fact, the bradys capability. the three of us have noted, -- that would, in fact, degrade his capability. the three of us have noted that any action carries with it risk, and the action carries with it consequence. but also does inaction. i can assure u.s. secretary of defense, that the department of defense, our leaders, have spent days and days going over every contingency, every option, everything you have talked about
and more -- security of our forces, our embassy, conflict -- embassies, consulates, the president insisted on seeing those plans. collateral damage, innocent people being hurt. we think the options that we have given him, first, would be effective, and the would carry out -- >> the time is flying. where did the chemical weapons come from? >> it is no secret that the assad regime has had the significant stockpiles of chemical weapons. >> from a particular country? but the russians supply them and others supply them -- >> the russians supply them and other countries supply them. they make some themselves. >> on april 25, the white house legislative director wrote that our intelligence community does -- ss that the syrian
regime has used chemical weapons. with the president's redlined about why was there no call for military response in april? it was a delayed to divert attention today from the incident, the failure of obamacare enforcement, or the failure of the debt limit vote? why was there no call for a military response four months ago when the president's red line was crossed? >> the reason is very simple. the president made a decision to change his policy, but he did not believe the evidence was so overwhelming. it was significant, and cleared was happening, but on a scale that he felt merritt said the increase of assistance and the announcements that he made with respect to the type of aid to
the opposition. he did respond. this was so egregious, and now builds on the conclusions of our intel community as to the numbers of times, but such a clear case, so compelling and urgent with respect to the fragrancy of the abuse that the president thinks as a matter of conscience and a matter of is to, the best route proceed through military action. >> but in april, it was very clear. chemical weapons are chemical weapons. >> but the president did not believe it was a compelling enough case to win the support of the american people, as well as the world. this is, and the president did respond. he upgraded what we were doing so vividly. he came to congress. we had to struggle to get congress to agree to do what he wanted to do to agree that effort.
>> your time has expired. we need to go to mr. gerry connolly of virginia. >> thank you. mr. chairman, late last night we delivered to all members of congress, and i physically delivered a copy today of an alternative resolution very narrowly drawn that actually codifies what the president has said he wishes to accomplish, and codifies no boots on the ground to try to make sure that andtay focused on the issue one response to that issue, and possibly provide the white house to a path for authorization. it hot -- i urge you to look at it, and hopefully we will be able to market up. issue andt this
recommended it to my colleagues if they find it helpful. if the evidence strongly compelling and if not, incontrovertible? second, if so, what action is warranted? thirdly, what is the efficacy of the proposed action and what are the risks? efficacy andis the were on the risks of doing nothing? if the latter always the former, how can congress provided authorization that is narrowly drawn to ensure no further involvement, but does two things -- enforces international law with respect to the ban on chemical weapons and deter future use of such weapons? all of this is a matter of judgment. everything i've heard from both sides of the eyal this week has
been sincere and heartfelt -- both sides of the aisle this week has been sincere and heartfelt. .t is a difficult issue i have come to the conclusion myself that the evidence is convincing and compelling. i also believe that the overhang of iraq as many of us changed. chained.any of us toq was faulty information justify a wrong priority. we are not dealing with a president who is hungering to invade another country or. boots on the ground. on theo put boots
ground. in fact, he has shown his reluctance to do so. there is no doubt the weapons exist, the stockpiles are there, and there is no doubt he used them. the question for us is what we do about it. mr. secretary, let me ask one question. if we do nothing -- and secretary hagel i act -- i invite you to answer as well, keeping in mind limited time. what is your judgment that's assad will use chemical weapons as a routine weapon to turn the stock -- turn the tide of this war? >> i think the likelihood is very high that he would use them again. >> mr. secretary? >> i a agree completely. i might even put it at 100%.
the antel oneck it. i think he will be convinced. >> if you are right that it is these that we will bsee ofpons used to turn the tide the war, what is the probability that these will also get into the hands of hezbollah and other elements supporting the regime, and perhaps best proliferate the region for friend and foe alike? >> i cannot give you that probability. i just do not know what it is. i can tell you there are three principal supporters of assad and the rest of the world that are in horror of what is happening. those are iran, hezbollah, and russia. if iran and hezbollah are allowed to both see him stay in
power, as well as to do so with the use of chemical weapons, that is extraordinarily dangerous for jordan, israel, lebanon, and our interests. >> we need to go to the chairman of the homeland security committee. mr. michael mccall from texas. >> thank you for being here. the week, we commemorate 12th anniversary of 9/11. qaeda thatt was al hit the world trade center and the pentagon down the street from here. al qaeda is the enemy and before 9/11, al qaeda was the enemy. as chairman of the homeland security committee, i want to make sure that never happens again. . know you share that as well it gives congress and the american people great pause because there is no good outcome here. there is no good side.
assad is the actor who used chemical weapons, no question. but who were the rebel forces? who are they? i ask that in my greetings all the time. and everytime i get briefed on this it gets worse and worse. the majority now are radical islamists pouring in from all over the world. to syria for the fight. and my concern is that any strike against this regime, as bad as it is, will empower these radical extremists. before.ave seen this we have seen it in afghanistan. we saw what happened in egypt, in libya, and what the arab spring has brought us. they have filled the vacuum. the vacuum when the assad regime falls, which we know it will.
who will fill that vacuum? are the extremists going to take over not only the government, but these weapons? they're the ones most likely to use these weapons against americans and the united states. while those images of children in damascus are horrific, i do not want to see those images in the united states. that is my grave concern. this is a very dangerous step that we are taking and we have to be very careful on how we proceed. with all due respect, i think this is well-intentioned. but i have these concerns. i want to hear from you as to whether you share these concerns and what you're doing to stop that outcome, because that is the worst outcome that could happen. apologize for, i interrupting. i think it would be helpful to -- as you were asking the
question. because i'm very concerned about the foundation of your question, the premise of it. a woman by the name of elizabeth bagley, she works for the institute of war. she is fluent in arabic and has spent an enormous amount of time studying the opposition, a city in syria. she just published a very which iing article commend to you. sitting behind me is ambassador robert ford. he has spent time in syria. the has been done enormous amount of time working with them and helping to understand is dynamic. i just do not agree that the majority are al qaeda and the bad guys. it is not true. there are about 700,000 oppositionists. about 15% to 25% might be in one
group or another that we would deem to be bad guys. there are many different groups. and sometimes they are fighting each other, even now. , there is abelief real moderate opposition that exists. and our allies in the region are now in a disciplined way funnelling resistance to the moderate opposition. >> i get when you're saying, but there are moderates. the briefings i have received are that it is at 50% and rising. these fighters coming globally are not coming in as moderates. they're coming in as jihadist. want to hear from the secretary and from the general as well. >> i agree with secretary
kerry's analysis. let me remind us all, and you know this very well, congressman, especially with your responsibilities as chairman of the homeland security committee. this is an imperfect situation. are the -- there are no good options here. every point you made of the complications with the various terrorist groups that we have noted are there. i don't question that. secretary kerry has pointed out that we are moving in the right .irection >> time has expired. >> i believe we stand at a
pivotal moment where congress is either going to uphold its duty to protect our national security or we will retreat from our moral and strategic obligations. it will have to be a narrowly drawn resolution to determine whether congress to end of four or allow our power to dramatically shrink. this is a hard choice.
american credibility is also on the line in iran. this committee has been strongly bipartisan and said a street -- a clear red line that we will not allow iran to obtain weapons capability. if congress votes down a limited robert -- authorization, then to iran's leaders, our red line against their development of nuclear weapons is meaningless. the sanctions we have passed unanimously out of this by 400ee and supported members on the house floor will be largely worthless because it will not be backed up by a credible threat of force. secretary kerry, if we're when to do everything in our power to solve the iranian nuclear issue actual conflict, then we must support this.
make no mistake. this resolution is about syria d accountable.a it is also about iran and making sure they do not up chain nuclear weapons. i do not want to be in this position. none of us do. the president did not put us in this position. bashar al-assad put us in this position when he chose to gas his own people. erry, a lot of people have come up to me. which are the nations who said they will support our action and how are they prepared to support it? americanited states of is not being the world's
policeman. united states of america is joining with other countries in upholding an international standard that 184 state -- 184 nations have joined into. obviously, we have a greater capacity. the american people have invested in and in order to protect our security interests -- our security interests are directly involved in what is happening in the middle east. our security interests are directly threatened with respect to assad's use of these chemical weapons. withe building support other countries. among them, the arab league, which announced its condemnation of this.
turks, the french, obviously the british government felt it should. it had a different vote, but that -- in fact, i think that raises the stakes in terms of holding ourselves accountable to a multilateral effort, to a multilateral standard in which the united states is the most technologically advanced partner. now to -- >> think you, mr. chairman. we heard a lot today about credibility in the united states. it seems to me that we have a credibility problem because our foreign policy in the middle east is inconsistent. our enemies really do not know what our foreign policy is. our friends don't know what it
is and i am not so sure that americans know what it is. we see it playing out with different reasons, going into different countries, removing people from leadership and putting someone else in. i like my friend from austin, i am concerned about the players on both sides. or are no players in this civil war. you have hezbollah, a bunch of bad guys on one side, and then you have other terrorist groups on the other side, including newsroom and all sharon. powerfuleve these are groups on both sides. history will find out who ends up winning this civil war. you factor in the religious connotation in this civil war and you really do have a real
problem. we do have a real problem on our hands. is, specifically, we want to do something to punish mr. bad guy assad. no question about it. good a bad guy, wasting air breathing. we're not going to shoot him or take him out because we do not want to this stable the civil war -- destabilize the civil war going on between both sides, if i understand what that civil war is. let's assume that we do that. i will ask you general dempsey this question first. assume we do that. what ever it is to destabilize the weapons of mass destruction. get rid of them. i assume that is what we are trying to do. i eliminate the weapons of mass destruction, even the secretary hagel said they are getting those things from russia, which are they going to give them our weapons? i do not know. so, we do that. assad fights back.
he does not just take it. he retaliates against us or let's iran retaliate against israel because we have come into this civil war. so, they shoot back. what do we do once erans e engaged and escalated in a postured for theot by our possibility of retaliation and i can assure you our regional partners are as well. >> let me just ask that question with a little more clarification from you. i know you are in the military and you are to the point. that is great. you are in charge. can you see that escalating, though, with you as military involvement in the region -- have you made a contingency plan military.s. involvement in the region --
have you made a contingency plan for us being in and escalated military operation in the region? >> in the spirit of your compliment on my conciseness, yes. [laughter] >> do you see escalation as a possibility? as amilitary escalation possibility? >> i could never drive the risk zero, bution 20 -- to i think the contributions we will seek from others, it begins to limit that risk. >> one last question since i am nearly out of time here. general dempsey, you mentioned earlier that you are concerned about removing assad from power. will you elaborate on that and if so, what is your elaboration? >> separate from this
conversation which is about the limited purpose of the hearing and degrading, i still am cautious about whether we should forcelk -- use military for the purpose of tipping the balance. i think there are other ways we can contribute to that through the development of modern opposition. i remain cautious about taking the oppositions role here in the civil war. >> thank you emma mr. chairman. you, mr. chairman. >> that bashar assad used chemical weapons i think is irrefutable. ofever, i think the facts history are needed here as well. the situation in syria is that of a national civil war. that conflict that america cannot solve and should not try to. this is not a fight for freedom and democracy. there is no democracy movement
in syria. if there is no unifying vision or social contract. not a constitution, or even a preamble of what syria wants to become. this is nothing more than a fight for control between two secretary and fashion -- to factions. tions. fac be about 1000d to militia with no air power. this is a conflict between a brutal and murderous dictator and an opposition who's best fighter are represented by al qaeda affiliates and islamic extremists bent on creating islamist sanctions in syria. there are no good options. syria, as in iraq and afghanistan, is that civil wars should be fought internally and that political
reconciliation cannot come from without, it has to come from within. if that cannot be a post from outside influences. we know that from our own history. the syrian civil war has caused 100,000 apps in a countries 23 million, the american civil war caused 675,000 deaths from a young nation of 34 million people. after spending two dollars trillion in iraq and afghanistan, representing $40,000 in debt for every american family and the loss of and therican lives destruction of tens of thousands -- at anyns, iraq is time in its history. as corrupt as it's always been. the american people are sick and tired of war. it is time to nation build in america and invest in the growth of the american economy. bashar al-assad used chemical
weapons on his own people. that is morally reprehensible for certain. he should be condemned the international community and stiff sanctions should be imposed. he should be indicted as a war criminal in the international tribunal for his murderous deeds. unfortunately, the use of chemical weapons in this part of the world is not new. saddam hussein used them in the iraq-iran war. and again, against his own civilian population in northern iraq in 1991. unfortunately, the stockpiling and use of mustard gas and staring, thousands of tons of -- and sarin, is all too common today taking back decades. the international support for the united states-led military strike in syria, however limited in scope at the time, consists
of two countries. turkey and france out of 194 countries. the rest of the international community, but for china and russia, says we support you, america and your military strike, so long as we do not have to do anything. restaurantseague's -- response to this -- the arab is ae's response to this joke. here we are, left to topple the last regime in the middle east. for the third time, in a decade, entering a national civil war in that part of the world, essentially alone, again, secretary kerry, you spoke on the world's response to the use of chemical weapons. history, one would think that more countries would join the u.s. in participating,
not supporting, in participating in a military strike against syria. what gives? well, congressman, i will try to be quick here. first of all, i do not want to make this debate about what is happening in terms of regime change and a larger issues. i just want to clarify. a -- who was tired of corruption and being slapped around started the arab spring in tunisia and throughout a dictator who had been there for a long. of time. of time.long period it was a bunch of young people with facebook and so forth who organized a resolution. it was not the muslim brotherhood. it had nothing to do with religion. it had to do with a generation of people looking for freedom,
opportunity, and aspirations to be met. the same thing happened in syria. in syria, that opposition was met with violence by assad. that is what has happened here. is, inerate opposition fact, committed to democracy. it is committed to the protection of all minority rights, inclusivity, they want elections in syria. i do not want a debate about that because this is not about regime change. this is about the enforcement of the standard with respect to chemical weapons. the president is asking for a limited authority to enforce that standard, not to deal with all those other issues. ,> matt salmon of arizona chairman of the western hemisphere committee. >> secretary kerry, let me first congratulate the president on bringing this matter to the congress as i believe he is constitutionally required to do. i for 1 am very happy he has
chosen to do this. he said just this morning that he did not draw a red line, the world did with the ratification of the chemical weapons treaty. where is the rest of the world in the response? go ite we looking at a alone mission? you said in your testimony that there are 34 countries who are with us. what degree are they with us and you are they, specifically? >> i do not have the full list of them here. i have listed a bunch of them. the arab league countries have condemned this. a number of them have asked to be part of a military operation. the turks, nato countries have condemned it. they have asked to be part of an operation. the french volunteer volunteered to be part of an operation. there are others who have volunteered, but frankly, and i will let general dempsey speak to this, we have more volunteers
and we can use for this kind of an operation. days, those names as they chose to as evidence comes out will be made more public. have 53d here, we countries who have already condemned the use publicly area 37 have said so publicly. -- publicly. 37 have said so publicly. it total of 34 nations have said they are prepared to take action. that is growing. more countries are reviewing the evidence we have shown. as i have said, over time the --sident has purposively purposely taken this to congress. he has asked me and the state department to reach out to more countries and to build the kind of international support that this merits and we will do so. >> thank you.
i would appreciate it if we could get a list of the countries and what assets they are willing to -- >> i have -- >> not now. we can get that later. i do have a question for general dempsey. what are our goals in the military strike? the president said the military attack would be limited in duration and scope. do you believe that the use of strikes will achieve the president's goal and can you guarantee the american people regime will be unable to launch any chemical warfare attacks altered home or on their neighbors? do you believe the region will be more stable after u.s. attacks or less stable? >> the mission given to me was to prepare options to attack, did terror, and degraded. that would be targets directly linked to the control of chemical weapons, but without exposing those chemical weapons.
secondly, the means of delivery, and third, those things that the example, airfor defense, long range air missiles and rockets in order to protect those chemical weapons. target packages still being refined as i sit here with you. as far as whether it will be effective, given the limited objectives i have received, the answer is, yes. i believe we can make the military strike effective. what it will do to the region, that really will depend on the reaction of the assad regime. as i mentioned earlier, our partners and the united states to deteris postured his retaliation. >> finally, general dempsey, as we have been discussing this over the last few weeks, we have given pretty clear -- we telegraphed our message to assad
and his regime that we are planning to make an attack. do you not assume that they might circle those wagons with civilians and with the possibility of civilian casualties being very great? the targeting requirements, as given to me by the president, require us to receive a collateral damage estimate that is low. fact, movingre, in resources around and in some cases placing prisoners and others in places that they believe we might target, at this point our intelligences keeping up with that movement. >> karen bass of california. >> inc. you and thank you chairman ranking member for holding this hearing today and our witnesses for coming. i have three questions and i would like to get out all three questions. then ask whoever chooses to respond.
libya, the arab league asked us to intervene. if i am wrong, correct me. i want to know what was different this time. i know they condemned the attacks, but why haven't they asked us to intervene? and then second, what type of retaliation, if any, do you iran, from syria, from hezbollah, or other unaffiliated parties and what are we doing to prepare for any retaliation? understand, -- made some comments today that he might be open to the idea of responding if it could be proven where the chemical weapons came from. wondering if you thought this provided an opportunity? how you might interpret his comments, but is there an opportunity for the international community to come together?
questions to which ever one of you chooses to answer. >> i will answer the one that lies to myst up particular expertise, and that is what kind of risk of retaliation. there is conventional risk, that would be if he chose to use some of his long-range rockets to attack his neighbors are some of our facilities. there is also asymmetric. he could encourage some of these surrogates and proxies such as lebanese hezbollah to attack an embassy. there is action secret seek to achieve in a cyber and we are alert to all of the possibilities. we are mitigating strategies in a way that we have positioned ourselves in the region. >> thank you.
the arab league and the other one was about putin. as i recall, during libya, i believe the arab league asked us to intervene. i wanted to know what the difference was with syria. so, they condemned to the attacks but they have not asked us to intervene and why? >> the reason is that a couple of their members, a number of their members, three or four of them are not in favor of it, so they did a consensus statement. individual countries are prepared to and are in favor of it. i named the number of them. lebanon, for obvious reasons, has some problems. nigeria and iraq have some issues. you can understand why people might be a little restrained. let me just share, could because this has been a recurring theme here today. australia, the foreign minister said australia supports the u.s.
position on syria. it is right to take actions to support vital international norms. he noted that australia believes the united states has its right independent of any endorsement from the united nations council. said they are ready to politically support the u.s. and nato in any action that needs to be taken to put an end to the massacre of the syrian population and support the syrian population. >> before i run out of time, could you respond about putin? >> i would interpret his question -- his comments as 20, -- that the jeep that the g-20, the president and conversation. canada, stephen harper said we should take action. it denmark, france, poland, turkey.
all have suggested the united states should take action and would be prepared to take action with us. this is a building response and i think other countries understand of the moment. >> we are going to go now to mr. tom marino of pennsylvania. >> thank you chairman. secretary hegel, if you could tell me or tell us, who are the bad guys? it this way. who are our allies? who are the good guys in syria? >> you are referring to the opposition, i assume? >> who are they? >> we have covered some of this ground. again, you are looking at various groups that are part of the opposition. noted, underkerry whogeneral there are groups
have one motive and one objective. that is a free and inclusive syria. >> do you trust these people? business toot my trust. >> it has to be the business is you are making decisions to go into war and put american lives at risk. onset. simple you either trust or do not trust. do not trust, we do not call these people our allies or support. >> congressman, every nation, every individual, every group response in their own self- interest. we are not unaware of all the different groups self-interest. >> excuse me, sir, with all due respect, i think we are aware if we look back at what happened in libya and in the middle east in the past. if we look at the muslim brotherhood. al qaeda. we have to take this into
consideration. obviously, we do not know yet who the good guys are. >> congressman, let me respond to that. not on good guys-bad guys. if the focus is on a narrowly drafted resolution asking resolution from the congress. not think the good guys would be using gas. secretary kerry, if i may ask you, from one prosecutor to another, i believe you are beyond a reasonable doubt assertion. i truly believe that. this will not stop the butchering and the killing that takes place over there. what is the purpose? what is the endgame? what is the imminent danger to the united states? >> congressman, you are absolutely correct that it will not stop the butchering. i wish it would. what it will do is what it is intended to do.
it is intended to a search the principal, which has been in 1925, that no one should use chemical weapons under any circumstances. >> i understand that. reality of this. what is the reality of this? we have seen this used in the past. you made the comment in 2002, when bush wanted to go into iraq which i did not agree with. the president also made the statement which i think was in the senate, in the state that was advancing his career, that we should not do this, even know -- even though saddam hussein gassed his own people. what is his own -- what is the difference here that you are so intent in going into syria because assad has done this? >> the gassing was not the pretext for that operation am a
but ultimately saddam hussein was held accountable for not just that crime but all of his other crimes. .e hung the bottom line is he was held accountable. hindsight, i concede see you stating that. but you are not supporting that in 2002. you are supporting it now. i do not see the difference. my issue gets to this. who is going to pay for this? it going to cost the united states taxpayers? >> i will let secretary hegel theess the cost issue from military. >> we have looked at the different costs depending on the different options depending on the decision the president makes. we have given some ranges of this. it would be tens of millions of dollars, that kind of range. i see my time is running out. believe this, regardless of the
minimization of intervention, american military personnel will die. this i cannot accept. bodyers coming home in a bag is not acceptable to me and therefore i cannot and will not vote for this intervention. thank you. >> this notes that no boots would be on the ground, i might remind the congressman. heard that before. >> we go back to the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of you or your service to our country. i want to thank all of you for sharing the information you have so far with congress and the american public, as well as the world. i think, clearly, that anyone looking at this evenly that has been a success in terms of making clear the case that there were chemical weapons used and that the assad e-government --
assad government use of them. i want to congratulate you on those efforts. general dempsey -- so general dempsey does not run out of time with a few seconds to answer, we were going down a road that i want to pursue if i could. the pastd concerns in about engaging militarily in the syrian conflict. obviously, you are here today to support a limited military reaction. to say in your remarks that there are military outcomes in supporting the opposition. qualified as saying, that is not what we are doing here. i am concerned that regardless of our stated intent in this area, that others will not share that same view. that is not our intent. if you could, and in plenty of time i hope, could you just expand upon what your concerns were and maybe are that you had in the past that you stated so
we have a better understanding of what they are and given you enough time to see what your views might be on how we can mitigate that or navigate around those concerns in the situation we are right now? want to separate support for the opposition from acting in a limited focused way to deter and degrade the assad use of chemical weapons. the former, support for the opposition, does come with some risk of a slippery slope of not entirely understanding when that support ends and how much it has to grow over time, which is why i am mostly supportive of helping the opposition by their development, by training and equipment. their military arm. separate that from what we are here for today. militarily, the fact that the assad regime has increased its use of chemicals
over time to the point where it initially was a weapon intended to terrorize a small portion of a particular neighborhood. to send a message to the , to where now in the most recent case it was used to literally attempt to clear a neighborhood. they reached a point where assad is using chemical weapons as just another military pool -- military tool in his arsenal. that runs a great risk for syria. it runs a great risk in the region. it runs a great risk for the glow. i am able to, with a lots integrity, i hope, be able to come to you today to make that distinction that we should do something in our national interest based on the use of chemical weapons without committing to supporting the opposition to overthrow the regime. that slippery slope, was that partly a concern
about how other countries or other factions could be taking our actions question mark even in a limited sense, we are helping the opposition because we are attacking the assad government. in that respect, is that any concern that you had prior to that question mark how do you mitigate that now? only always considered not whether -- the actions we would have on our partners and even the iraq use, for that matter. it would havect on our potential adversaries. of coarse, that has always been a concern. consideration. but when something reaches the level where it has a direct impact on our national security, then the overriding consideration is not what others think but what we think. >> thank you, general.
ranking member in europe and eurasia. it was set in 1999 -- there was a precedent set in 1999 were nato moved without approval. do you think this helped them moving not just individually. -- trying to get nato support as an organization? >> i apologize. i was just reading a note. could you repeat that question mark it was about nato, the 1999 precedent where they moved forward without that security council approval. is there any hope of doing that going forward? >> i doubt it, but i cannot tell you until i have the meeting this weekend and get a better sense of that. i will say to congressman marino, with respect to the body
bags, i think we had a 28-day campaign, maybe air t-day campaign in kosovo. there were over 30,000 of our aircraft and so forth. none of which is contemplated here. and there were zero casualties. zero. >> we should go to jeff duncan at this south carolina time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i cannot discuss the possibility without.s. involvement talking about benghazi. the administration has a serious credibility issue with the american people. the benghazi attack was almost one year ago. when you factor in the targeting of the irs to conservative programs, nsa spying the bottom line is that there is a need for accountability and trust-building. to paraphrase, it was said that
i am not upset over you not telling me the truth. i am upset because from now on i cannot believe you. the it ministration has a credibility issue. benghazi is germane to the discussions in syria, because as you stated, the world was and is watching for our response. after almost a year of not bringing anyone to justice in benghazi, they are watching our response. your predecessor asked, what difference does it make now? this is the difference. hese issues call into issue accountability of this administration. the american people need to speak up. is about accountability. it sure it is. the american people deserve answers about benghazi before we syria's civiln war. this is a victor. you cannot see it from there, but you might go to see on the screen. mes is a picture given to
why his father, a navy seal. this family deserves answers. he was killed in benghazi. america deserves answers before we sent another man and woman into harms way, a specially in another country's civil war when there is no clear indication that there is an imminent threat to the united states. that chemicalion weapons were used in syria. i have looked at the classified briefings. i do ask where are the other as the u.s.untries beats the drums of war against this regime and syria? spoken to hundreds of constituents. this represents about 300 e- mails that my office has gotten and not a one member in my district are the-mails of people who he contacted my office to say, go to syria and fight this regime. they say, no. it did not go into syria. do not get involved in their civil war.
to eighth graders. about 150 of them get it that we should not be drug into someone else's civil war where there are no good guys. i can only envision an escalation of this conflict. the same administration that was so quick to involve the u.s. in syria now was reluctant to use the same resources at its disposal to attempt a rescue to four brave americans that fought for their lives in benghazi. kerry, you have never been one that has advocated for inthing other than caution past conflicts. the same is true for the president and vice president. is the power of the executive branch so intoxicating that you would abandon past caution in favor of pulling the trigger on a military response so quickly? the reason that i say benghazi is germane is this. kerry, had there been any efforts on the part of the united states directly or indirectly to provide weapons to
the syrian rebels, and that would also include facilitating the transfer of weapons from rebels to the syrian rebels. >> have there been efforts to? >> to put weapons in the hands of syrian rebels and also transfer weapons from libya to syria. congressman, by challenging your proposition that i have never done anything except advocate caution because i volunteered to fight for my country and that was not a conscious thing to do when i did it. i'm going to finish, congressman. i am going to finish. and i was in the united states senate, i supported military action on any number of occasions, including her innate in panama. i could run a list of them. judgment is. we are talking about people the being killed by gas and you want to go talk about benghazi and
fast and furious. >> absolutely. americans lost their lives. worldwide response, but we should act cautiously. be auld are acting cautiously. we are acting so cautiously that the president of the united states was accused of not acting because he wanted to have sufficient evidence and he wanted to build the case properly. >> it has been 15 days. privilege, here. this is important. i think this is important. it is important whether or not wayre going into syria in a that the congressman describes, which i think most people in america do not want us to do. would you not want to do that. that is why the president has said no boots on the ground. this is not about getting into syria's civil war. is about enforcing the principle that people should not be allowed to gas their citizens with impunity. do this, at vote to
sod will interpret from you that he is free to do this any day he wants to. that is what this is about. not getting involved in syria's civil war. let's draw the proper distinction here, congressman. drag us intorve to another benghazi discussion when the real issue here is whether or not the congress is going to stand up for international norms with respect to dictators that have only been broken twice until assad. hussein.nd saddam if we give license to somebody to continue that, shame on us. go to mr. davis of rhode island. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to begin by thanking our three witnesses not only by being here today, but for extraordinary service to our country. i went to a knowledge the president for his consultation. i've had the opportunity to participate.
i was on the telephone monday with secretary kerry, hbassador. for histhe president ongoing consultation and sharing of information. this is a difficult question. hegel said there is no good answers with the use of chemical weapons. it is our ethic. think the assad regime is responsible and should be held accountable. i talktion really is, as to constituents in my district who reacted the same way with war weariness and a recognition of all of the enormous risks associated with the military intervention, both in propping up the wrong opposition and being deeply engaged in a civil war, they all wonder, is there a set of actions we could take which would evidence strong condemnation, isolate assad, and also vindicate our deep
commitment to a set of international institutions. things like making china and russia act on the security council on a public stage to veto a public resolution. seek an indictment of assad for war crimes. sanctionsria through and other kinds of international actions where we might build a broad coalition, strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons, isolate syria, and build the international voice and do it in a way, frankly, that would be more consistent with our values. with the idea of working internationalsing organizations. i would like to know, was there a discussion about a set of options that might be effective without the risks that are associated with military actions? was it considered and rejected or is it something we could put together that would be a strong force and set of actions that assad, the turk the
use of chemical weapons again, but without the dangers? second question, quickly, mr. secretary, you mentioned america and her alliesavto make assad rt decision without going to war. i would love more -- i would love to hear more about what those things are is i think many of our concerns are what happens after. i am interested in the discussion from all of you as to whether we might think hard about the ways to do this. >> congressman, a very good question. that thee, we wish international institution that is there for this response would respond. that is the u.n. and un security council.
our representative attempted with other allies to put a resolution before the security that would have simply condemned the event, not assigning blame at all. the russians said no. they blocked it. that is what has set us into that has an effect of deterring assad from these weapons. sanction,u had some if it isn't meaningful in a way that is going to deter the action and no one has yet piece of paperme or terminology with respect to what he is fighting for. the judgment has been made that the only way to have an impact and hold him accountable is to
make it clear to him that this will, in fact, detract from his ability to abuse his people. >> i think what the secretary said is exactly right. i would add two things. there are a number of tracks we are on right now to accomplish what you're are talking about. secretary kerry's diplomatic track which has been ongoing and intense. reaching out to our allies all over the world. with 15 asia last week defense ministers from all over asia discussing this. meeting with leaders. nato allies. all three of us have been talking to our counterparts from countries all over the world.
what did the white house is doing. what the president is doing. we are still involved with the united nations. those tracks are being run in addition to what we are talking about here. one exact point on the purpose of this hearing. general dempsey said this morning at the senate armed services committee, when asked about the violation of the chemical weapons norm come a a norm, a old norm, -- 100 year old norm, one of the points that general dancey made which is exactly right and we start here, this is a threat to our interest, to our forces, to our country, allowing a tyrant to get away with the use of chemical weapons. that is the real threat. .> kissinger of illinois i know you have had a couple of long weeks.
this, but i support want to say at the beginning my disapproval of the president's policies in the middle east. i believe part of the reason we are having difficulty rallying a coalition is they do not see the united states is having lead on this until recently. that said, as a veteran of the military, as a current serving military pilot in the national guard, i also am war weary. but i want to remind americans what one of my favorite presidents ronald reagan said. he said, if we want to avoid work, or begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. that is the situation we find ourselves in in. it has been amazing to me that we are seeming to paralyze ourselves into inaction, running every potential scenario that this.occur in it makes me wonder, god help us if we become a country that cannot do the right and because we paralyze ourselves into inaction. here's a picture i think everybody needs to see. this is a picture of syrian
children, many of which the secretary said earlier, about 400 died in just this one chemical gas attack. if we don't do anything about this, you can ensure that maybe the kids in this picture are definitely other kids will die from the same attack. i want to quickly read you the in gas. of syrian -- sar the mild effects is running -- blurred vision, sweating, chest tightness, diarrhea, not sitting, increased urination, slow or fast hi rick, low or high blood pressure. exposure to large doses like we saw in ceric, loss of emotions,ess, paralysis, respiratory failure which is a polite way of saying you suffocate to death while you are aware you are suffocating to death. what we are talking about is a
discussion of what the international community and united states of america in the goodness of our heart has determined is the right thing we can affect. can we ban artillery shells? we cannot. can we ban all war? we can't. saye can stand up and chemical weapons have no place in this world and do something about it, god help us if we do not. i will remind folks and ask you all to comment on this eventually. 2000 two or 2003, we maintained two no-fly zones because of our disdain for chemical weapons. most people would have agreed that what we did was the right thing to do because saddam hussein gassed his own residence. this is not the first time america has put down a red line on chemical weapons. i have heard people say that this is the president red line, at united states of america. you just have to look at history to know that it is.
i am also reminded of what president clinton said when he was asked what his one regret was. he said his one regret was inaction in rwanda. i wonder in 2010, 50 years, what are we going to say if we did ofhing about the gases people in syria. i have heard people say, in its has really bothered me -- they say that if we go in and strike assad and make him pay for the use of chemical weapons more than any benefit he gains, that we are acting as, al qaeda's air force. i believe that is a cheap line by some people to garner headlines and not a serious discussion about what is going on. secretary kerry, if you will start, what is your hot on the -- what is your thought on the comment of the cheap line about qaeda and punishing an evil man with evil weapons? >> congressman, your comments have been very eloquent and i
think very important to this discussion. i am confident i joined the general and the secretary hegel in thanking you for your service, willing to serve both in the guard as well as pilot, but also here. the intent of the president could not be more clear. impact, if congress will pass this and we can carry out this action, the impact will be not to help al qaeda. in fact, it will not help al qaeda. it will further expose al qaeda. it will hold a dictator accountable to this critical standard. you just reiterated it and i said in my opening testimony, this is not just about folks in
syria, my friends. benefit fromps this standard being upheld. and through all of our wars since 1925, we have managed to see it upheld when we have been involved. is, the absence of our willingness to uphold this standard will do several things that are directly against our interests. number one, completely undermine america's validity, credibility in the region and elsewhere. it will embolden north korea and iran with respect to activities that will directly threaten the united states and our allies. importantly, increase the number of terrorists that we are already concerned about because it will force people who want to take on assad to go to the least common denominator of
the efficiency and expediency, and that will be to arm the worst people who will try to get the charm -- try to get the job done. alice's urge everybody to listen carefully to the congressman and evaluating's on a basis of common sense and human behavior. in the absence of doing this, there will be impunity to bashar al-assad for the use of these weapons. >> alan grayson from florida. >> do syria and hezbollah have the means to launch a counter attack to the u.s. embassies? assets aretime positioned such that there are no capabilities that can threaten them. embassies, of course, are a fixed resource and always subject to terrorist attack.
that remains true today as it last 10 years. we have taken steps to mitigate that risk. >> and israel? you may be aware, is actually anticipating some action. gone to a state of high alert. called reserves. taken a lot of measures. we partner with israel very closely on the defense of israel. >> would you say a counter attack is more likely than not? >> i do not think i could say that. without signaling the syrian regime in some way, i would not say that. i would not come to that conclusion. secretary kerry, have members of the syrian opposition called for such an attack and if so, whom question mark -- whom? specifically that i know of. they support it, apparently they have not advocated to me.
i've had conversations and there was no urging to do this. >> haven't members of the syrian opposition said they do not want an attack? >> no, i have not heard that. >> you have not seen public reports to that effect? >> no. secretary kerry, there are 189 signers of the chemical weapons convention. serious not happen to be one of them. signatoriesthose have pledged to participate in the military intervention in syria and what exactly is each one pledging to do? there are at least 10 countries that have pledged to participate. we have actually not sought more .or participation we have sought people for support. there are many more, obviously, that support. i think i should let the general speak to the question. i said earlier, there really is of and for this kind
opposition -- for this kind of an operation as to how many you want to participate. you want support, but just physically, the management, the technical capacity and other you wantre critical. to say something? >> i apologize. i was writing down your first question. what was your first question about partners? >> of the 189 signatories to the chemical weapons convention, how many of them have pledged to participate in a military attack on syria and would have a pledged to do? >> i just have the final answer to that. -- i do not have the final answer to that. we have agreements in many different ways, some of which would not be appropriate to speak about in an unclassified setting. >> will the military action in syria, if it does take place, require supplement appropriation? and if you do not, would you
commit to that now? option thats on the the president would select. i have said that we will work with the congress on whatever the cost of that is. >> thank you. >> secretary hegel, there has been a report in the media that the administration has mischaracterized post-attack a military communications and that these communications expressed surprise about the attack. this is a very serious charge. can you please release the original transcripts to the american people can make their own judgment about that important issue? >> what transcripts are you referring to? >> the transcripts that room that reportedly took place after the attack and that the government suggested they confirmed the existence of an attack, but actually it was commandersat syrian expressed surprise about the attack taking place, not confirmed it. >> that is probably classified.
i would have to go back and review exactly what you are referring to. >> you will agree it is important that the administration not mislead the public in any way, won't you? >> of course. i'm not aware of the administration misleading the american public on this or any other issue. >> would you agree the only way to put that to rest is to release the reports in some redacted form? >> i will not agree to anything until i see what it is, but most likely it is classified. >> i am asking will you declassify it for this purpose. >> i just gave you my answer. i have no idea what exactly you are talking about. i would have to look at it and confer with others, our intelligence community, i would have to see it. >> thank you for your time. serviceortantly, your and time in uniform.
man.al dempsey as a young i have grown weary for several months. not weary of war, because i know as each of you know that war is sometimes the price that a free society must pay to defend our freedom and to protect our interests abroad. i have grown weary of the president's war weariness. i have called for action in syria. action should have taken years ago. i am deeply worried our national security interest are at stake in syria. you said the president does not bluff. our enemies and our allies do not believe that statement. iranometimes we have let violate numerous resolutions. have not acted on
usage of chemical weapons. i believe the world is watching. the day the united states does the dayis not just bashar al-assad knows it's open season but also the date kim the on knows that and that ayatollah spins his centrifuges into overdrive which starts the clock ticking when those nuclear warheads could hit our constituency in the united states. i agree with what my colleague as said, we have a vital maintaining the international taboo against chemical weapons. in of you have been training, where you have been exposed to gas and you know no one benefits from that more and then american troops. i am also worried our inaction is destabilizing the middle east .
our allies in israel and jordan as well as turkey and emboldening iran, one of our most implacable enemies as they send thousands of troops to fight in syria, along with hezbollah from lebanon. miracles,y miracle of i am in support of the call for action in syria. i am urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this action as well. president's stated policy was not just a red line against chemical weapons, which occurred without any objection from members of congress and occurred before he was reelected by the american people. it was also a stated policy of regime change. you, what isto ask the president planning that could lead not just to also in ultimate
victory in syria, so they will not use chemical weapons again and so that a pro-western native syrian government can take its place? you for the very clear andcompelling statement thank you for the support for the president's initiative for the interest of the country. respect to the long-term, you are correct. i want to separate. in terms of what the president is asking the congress for. is assad must go and there should be a regime change. the president is committed to additional efforts in support of the opposition, together with friends and allies, in a
coordinated way to achieve that with the understanding that the will comeransition and can come through a negotiated settlement, he does not believe, we do not believe there is a military solution. action, nobody should be confused, americans should not be confused. effort to take over the civil war. it is an effort to uphold the standard and the action the president is asking the congress is aprove -- approve singular military action to uphold that standard with respect to chemical weapons. on a separate track is the political track which the president is seeking support through appropriate channels in
congress, which is in effect to help the opposition in order to see assad leave. we don't want to confuse the two. is there a downstream, collateral benefit to what will in terms of the enforcement of chemical weapons effort? the answer is yes. it will degrade his military capacity. it will have downstream impact. that is not the primary calculation of what brings us here. would like to do, classified, in a session, we should have the discussion about the other things the president would like to see us do. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i would like to say i have the greatest respect for all of you and.
i think secretary kerry, i first heard of you back in 1985 when i was in the jesuits. he had great respect for you because of your activities after vietnam and i know, secretary hagel, you are so reluctant to go to war you were not -- almost not approved by the senate. i know you're not anxiously running to war in the president ran on not getting us into war. i am someone reluctant to get into a war like this. on saturday i had the opportunity to speak to a small group of veterans in san diego before i flew here on sunday. they asked a question, i told them i would ask, they convinced me it was a good question. one of them has a son in the military today. he believes last time we went running off to work the facts that were given were lies and were misleading.
wanted was one thing. i told him all that i have read leads me to believe chemical weapons were used and that children were gassed and because of that we have to act. he wanted you to promise the fact you have given us our true to the best of your ability. you are not lying. you're not old anything back. what we have seen, and what i i want to make sure you promise us you are telling the truth. i am proud and perfectly willing to tell you everything i have said is the truth and based on the information as it has been presented to me. and based on my own experience in war, which i resolved to do if i was in a position to make any choices, fully vetted. i am comfortable with it. i would not make this
recommendation if i were not. i believe we have vetted this. we have asked the intel people. we have even had a separate team created that had independence from the original team to totally vet, check all of the analysis. find out if it could have been the opposition. therery case i would say is a comfort level with this that is rare in this kind of situation. i would not have said you could prove this case if i did not believe it. >> apologize for the insulting question. >> i think it is an important question. we should ask more questions like that. i don't know how i would improve on my former senate colleague's question and answer back to you. i feel exactly the same way.
i know the three of us would not be sitting here today saying the things we are saying if we did not leave it. -- believe it. he have been through too much. left but a lot of time that was my only question. thank you. are going to go to mr. george holding of south carolina. >> north carolina, mr. chairman. that's all right. carolina.ike south general dempsey, thank you for your service. we have ate the fact chairman of the joints chief of staff that also has a masters degree in literature. irish literature at that. the objectives of this military ,ction that have been stated the great ability, and deter
future actions. and the associated targeting of those objectives. would this action constitute war? as you know, congressman, the decision on whether something rises to the level of war that is -- is made to in the congress of the united states. behink militarily it would hard for me to say this is other than an act of war but the problem is that war has this image of being a campaign over an extended time until somebody plants a flag or surrenders. what we're talking about. we are talking about something limited to address the specific specific issue of the use of chemical weapons. actions,take these trying to achieve the objectives you stated, and the syrians
punch back. that escalation. i am sure we can degrade their ability to punch back. i am sure you have planned for that contingency. there is always the chance they can punch back and it can hurt. i think about the british in the falkland. they had overpowering strength and all of a sudden they found that there were some weaknesses. they lost a capital ship. that could happen to us. if they punch back and are , would that be closer to a definition of war? action tot sure their our reaction gets into a cycle.
again, it is not the chairman of the joint chiefs that defines or declares war. if you are asking are we prepared for retaliation, we are as well as we possibly could be. >> certainly we are prepared for any retaliation. retaliation, we would have to answer immediately. >> i would not make that conclusion. maticitythere is no auto to anything in conflict. would certainly have the ability to control our response on our terms. i would not conclude this than processarts that you lose control of. >> is russia still a superpower?
>> i think the answer to that question, when you look at the instruments of power, look at ourselves. combination of economic power that defines us as a superpower. i think russia possesses elements that would qualify them to join the club of superpower, they still have an arsenal. but conventionally, i would not put him into that class. i think there are parts of that apparatus that rise to that level. >> obviously, we know that syria and russia are allies. the only russian military base outside of russia. strike atdecided to theater, what are
the top three options they would retaliationke us in for us shrugging their closest ally? -- striking their closest ally? >> it would not be helpful in this setting to have a discussion about that kind of hypothetical. i have some views i could share in a classified environment. >> we can say russia would have options to strike us. in retaliation for us striking. frome have capabilities asymmetric all the way through strategic nuclear weapons. not be helpful to speculate about that. >> brad snyder of illinois. you, first to the service to our country in the time you have spent with us today as well as the time he spent earlier in the year.
,his is the biggest decision one of the biggest decisions we could possibly make and when we take very seriously. it is why i came for a classified briefing. i have read the report. i listened in on the teleconference on monday and i'm grateful to have time with you here. i also recognized the angst of my constituents. and ais a worry legitimate concern. secretary kerry, you said if we ofnothing the likelihood assad using chemical weapons is approaching 100%. is that fair? i want to turn to general dempsey. -- thed you can't get risk of escalation down to zero. i wonder if there is a risk if we do nothing. there is absolutely a risk of
escalation in the use of chemical weapons if we do nothing. 100%, ist approaches there a likelihood we are back at the same question again a month or six months from now at a high level with a greater risk? >> i believe so. i think so. as i evaluate the decision we have to make, the first thing i beyond anyis reasonable doubt, the assad regime has land, perpetrated, and even covered up this use of chemical weapons. one of my questions, general dempsey you have said without a doubt, this is a threat to our national interest. is that fair as we go through
the decision process? establishinguse of , it is an overused phrase, but a new norm. i have not lived in a world were emma: weapons routinely used. i don't want to live in that world. >> from an international standpoint, if we have the interest, the authority, i reviewed the chemical weapons convention. the united nations is the authority. six kerry carey, you said they are not available to us. was, would we be on a different strategy? >> if the russians were to join in and be willing to pass this with the chinese, i guarantee you the president would want to see it passed. congressman,
holding left a question on the table and i want to make sure it is not hanging out there. the foreign minister of russia "russia doeslear not intend to fight a war over syria." i have had personal conversations with president putin and the foreign minister that have indicated syria does not rise to that level of conflict. their ships are staying out of the way. they are not threatening that. i do not think that would happen here. >> thank you. u.n. is not available, the international community is rising up and i want to thank you for bringing in the coalition. if we don't to lead, there anyone else who will? to hold to the regime accountable?
>> it is conceivable that french might decide. we are not putting that to the test because we don't believe that is appropriate. >> as we look forward, the other options on the table, you have a value weighted, you have seen where we are, this is one of the biggest decisions we are going to make. can you state the strategy laid out your considering will achieve the goals we have to deter and diminish the ability of the assad regime to use chemical weapons? >> militarily i can state we can achieve the goal of deterring and degrading. i did not say we can prevent. that is the challenge. we are trying to change the calculus of the regime.
>> i understand. for us to prevent would require isolating and putting boots on the ground, which uniformly we stand against. i yield back. >> mr. rainey weber of texas. >> general dempsey, these are for you. and your remarks, there were five options, training, assisting, conducting limited standoff strikes, establishing a no-fly zone and controlling chemical weapons. i have been through that. i have studied it. $500 million annually. gain that extremists would access to additional capabilities. you remember that? perfect. risk forsaid
retaliatory attacks and insider attacks. turning their guns on us and killing our troops. you said conduct a limited standoff strikes. ,our cost was in the billions depending on the duration. regime could "the withstand limited strikes by dispersing its assets." as if we gave them a two-week notic. -- notice. it would impact civilians and foreigners. you stand established a no-fly zone. cost 500 million dollars initially and averaged as much as a billion dollars a month. you said there was a risk of using a u.s. aircraft, which would require us to insert personnel recovery forces. boots on the ground. he also said it may also fail to
reduce the violence or shift the momentum because the regime ,elies on surface fired mortars artillery, and missiles. it is not a very good option. you said establish buffer zones. you estimated one billion dollars a month. you said control chemical weapons. , $1ican men and women billion a month. i understand that is not advocated. i have a simple question, everything i read from your summary indicated there is no guarantee of a lasting peace in nor thatin the region they are american friendly, after we have a gargantuan outlay of american money, resources, and maybe american blood and lives if they retaliate. no guarantee.
is that a fair statement? >> i would remind you the answer to the letter i sent was related to the question i received, what would it take to tip the balance in favor of the opposition and to theto -- lead overthrow of the regime. i want to make sure that is separate from today. >> i got that. whiz on a fair statement, no guarantee on the other and? -- end? peace in syria, and whoever comes out on the other side will be our friends. no guarantee. >> that is not the stated objective. >> that was not my question. would you guarantee after trying youstablish the objective are seeking to establish we do not have a guaranteed of a
comes syria and whoever out would be our friend. >> i would not guarantee anything. this is unpredictable. it is complicated. it is dangerous. what we are thinking through, diplomatically, international coalition, all of the factors we talked about today -- >> i am running out of time. >> that is a diplomatic settlement. kerry, your response. >> i can't give you a guarantee about the outcome that i can give you guarantee the united states of america can make it clear to a side it is going going to cost them to use chemical weapons and we can have an impact on deterring his capacity. that guarantee is what i can give you. that is the president is seeking
seeking to do. >> at what price. >> not of the price you described. absolutely not. >> if american credibility is at stake, if anybody were to attack us, this congress would respond with the full force and fury of the military. >> congressman, not everything comes down in terms of threat or threats to our country to somebody attacking us. a lot of things we do in also do it ine the context on occasion, as we did in bosnia, to have a settlement. to save lives. that is what we have achieved. previouslyieved that and i believe it is vital to the united states to assert this principle and to begin to move
this troubled part of the world in a different direction. that is what we are working on. >> thank you, mr. chairman. obviously this has been a long day. it is of critical importance we are having this discussion. i applaud the president for including congress in this debate. i agree we have to show resolve and we have to show we are committed to our allies. we still need to be convinced. not that atrocities have occurred. we are unanimous in our condemnation of what assad has done. we need to know exactly what our goals are and our object to its. this is increasingly a complex situation. hegel, when i was home , peoplemento county
were stopping me in the grocery stores. my neighbors were pulling me aside on the street. all of my colleagues have been inundated with phone calls, e- and almost unanimously people don't want us to strike syria. they are fatigued. these are the people i represent. can i tell is, what them about why these strikes are in our national security interest? why it matters to these people who are struggling every day? how do i communicate what our plan is? >> i understand your question clearly. i understand the responsibility you have to give those you represent a clear answer. that is partly why the president
wanted to bring this before the congress of the american people would have an opportunity to hear all of the questions. my answer to you is, for you to give to your constituents, it is clearly in the interest of our country because, as we have noted today, the use of chemical weapons, if it becomes a an artd, if it becomes of war, a method of war, that it is accepted by the world, which it has not been, it jeopardizes our country, homeland, troops, people all over the world. you look at the nations that wee stockpiles, one nation are talking about, has used those. north korea has them. what about a ran? this is in the interest of the united states -- about iran?
the interest of the united states. >> listening to those concerns and why it is in the national security interest, again listening to my constituents, they understand the importance of maintaining our credibility and our standing as a nation. it seems so far away for them. these issues seem very far away. discussed, we are sending a message to assad but we are not securing these chemical stockpiles. dempsey, you, in your testimony indicated how difficult it would be to secure chemical stockpiles to make sure they do not fall into the hands of terrorists.
if that is not our stated goal, to make sure he we are securing our homeland, we are making sure our neighborhoods are safe, it's a very difficult goal to articulate to my constituents. >> let me remind you of something that has been noted earlier. tot week we are going celebrate, not celebrate, we are going to remember what happened on thatcountry september day in 2001. we all recall where we were. how many of my constituents during those days in nebraska ever thought about or knew where afghanistan was? thisd ever even heard of organization called al qaeda? there is a clear, living example of how we are not insulated from
the rest of the world. how things can happen to the united states in this country if we are not diligent and think through these things and stay ahead of these things and take action to prevent them from occurring. maybe something would not happen in this country for a couple of years. i don't know. the next residents, the next chairman, the next group of may have to deal with this in a bigger way if we are not paying attention now. 9/11 anniversary, a very clear example you could use with your constituents. >> scott perry, pennsylvania. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to start with some corrections for the record since it has been a topic of discussion. i have the quote from the president. we start seeing a bunch of
chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. that way change my calculus. that would change my equation. 2012.s the president in just because some folks like to revise history. secretary kerry, one question to start out. gas ayou consider sarin weapons of mass destruction? >> yes. >> ok. they were used in iraq, found in iraq before i got there, for those who say the past administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. now, some quotes here for you. this is from the president. the president does not have the militaryauthorize the attack in a situation that does
not involve stopping in a minute -- an imminent threat to the nation. that was in 2007. if the u.s. attacks another country without a mandate and behout evidence that can presented, there are questions of whether international law supports it. that was 2013. 2013, august 31, i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific authorization, i know the country will be stronger and -- actions will be more if effective if the strike is authorized by congress. havepresident obama, expressed your support for the war powers resolution. says the president may use u.s. armed forces abroad only pursuant to a declaration authorization, created
by an attack on the united states. we have a credibility and trust issue. i questioned ambassador ford about our strategy and i could get no answer regarding the crossing of a red line, which i think was a capricious statement. we are here right now. with the situation in front of us. abide by theident wishes of the representatives of the american people if there is a no vote on a resolution in this congress? >> look, i can't answer for the president. he answers for himself obviously and i answer to him. can guarantee you the president has made it clear he believes he has the authority
within the constitution in the executive branch to be able to take action without congressional approval and that has happened again and again under presidencies of both parties. we're going to advantage ourselves with that constitutional debate. >> that is critical. we talk about how we are going to do what we're going to do. respect, i am glad the president came to congress to get this question answered, he made the statement before he came to congress. it is my opinion when the american people said we don't want you to do this, and when the international community said we are not with you, then he came to the congress. he had a shining vision in the beginning of a grand strategy
that would involve the congress. >> look, we can have a say, youn, needless to do not agree with the president's approach to some of these issues. maybe many of them. maybe all of them. of the are a member other party. the president is not your president of choice. he is the president we have. it does not do us any good to debate those differences with the president. discussimportant is to whether or not the fact he has come to you and he is requesting this authority and he has made his decision. not,et's decide whether or together, we can find a common ground in the interest of our what is necessary to hold a man accountable for his use of chemicals, weapons of mass destruction.
>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. i have a tremendous amount of respect of respect for the three of you and your service to this country on some many levels. the privilege and honor of serving our country in uniform and deployed with the hawaii national guard in 2005. one of my daily responsibilities serving in a medical unit was going through a list every day of every injury and casualty throughout the entire region. looking for and taking care of our hawaii soldier. it is those experiences and those memories as well as the many innocents who have been killed in syria that i carry with me every day. discussion, and
take our responsibility very seriously, as do you. there is no question, we have seen it today, the use of these chemical weapons is horrifying. , the path remains unclear to me on many levels. action, theurse of most effective, and whether or not he stated objectives you have you have spoken about today and previously, as well as realistice we have a and honest understanding of what the next steps are and what the consequences could be. that is where my concern is. what happens next. i think we can place many limitations on what role the united states will play, through resolutions and other means. whether we like it or not the consequences of her actions will impact the civil war, a very
complicated region and once we are involved with our military it is likely we will have to consider the extended will we will play in any retaliation that occurs. questions,e major one is the realistic possibility a limited strike will not achieve your objective. the targeted strike resulting in a deterrence of his further use of weapons of mass distraction, for him and around the world. i have to look back at iraq where there were thoughts that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. he was deposed, captured, and hang and that falls short of that action. why would taking this lesser him or other dictators when that example of saddam hussein has not deterred assad?
ach of you has made distinction between this limited strike in providing aid to opposition forces by weakening assad with this below, are we in directing -- indirectly assisting the opposition forces? and with the use of chemical weapons, you stated that the willt you're talking about be linked to means of control of these chemical weapons without actually releasing the weapons themselves. i wonder what your strategy and objectives are regarding securing these weapons across syria, especially if the regime falls. how we secure them given the nonsupport from russia and china? people who have stated explicitly their desire to harm our people and american interest. >> very good questions.
thank you for your service. very very much. theral, if you want to take last one. >> i can do that. this is what we get for training you had to ask questions. and thanks for your service. question ofon the security of the weapons in the event of the fall of the regime. levele a declassified contingency plan with regional to secure a finite, a limited number of sites, the challenge is the number of attentional sites. the regime has a tendency to move their chemical weapons around. we think to secure them but it may not be. i would tell you we do have contingency plans with regional partners. it is a very heavy lift. >> with respect to the limited strike, not achieving the
objective, the general spoke to that earlier. he has confidence we have the ability to appeal our objective. volley, wehe first have the ability to achieve that it. and he said would it inadvertently helped the opposition? times, as ait many collateral, component of this, willejected -- degradation be of benefit to the opposition but that is not the fundamental of the initiative the president is asking you to engage in. >> thank you to all of the witnesses for your service, particularly military service. you spoke about how the use of ofs gas breached the norm civilized behavior and we need to enforce this norm, like you
lessons learned by children and bullies. i know you got irritated about benghazi. that was not on your watch. as i look at it, that same line of reasoning should have applied. the assassination of a diplomat reaches norms that were than thed far longer use of gas and yet the u.s. has not acted to avenge the death of the four americans, including our ambassador. lack of response, using the same line of reasoning could embolden terror groups that they can do this and that we may not respond. butare not responsible there is a frustration among my constituents about how we handle that. not on your watch but i wanted to clear up how some of us view that. completely, ie think it is different from the earlier questions.
i appreciate and respect the need for justice to be done. believe me, we have this discussion in the state department about the steps that are being taken. there are steps being taken. it is not a back burner issue. id in an appropriate setting would be delighted to share with you exactly what is going on. that accountability is a priority for the president. >> we appreciate that. secretary kerry, do you think will have ana effect on whether iran decides to continue with its nuclear program or abandonen it? >> i think whether or not the united states stands up to this century-old prohibition on the use of weapons will, in fact, affected
not only iran but loads of people posting team about whether the united states is good for its word. i you think it is possible ran seeing a strike against the, they will decide to abandon -- >> i did not say that. it will affect their thinking about how serious the united states is. will't predict what they decide to do. i tell you this, it will enter into their calculation about what we might be prepared to do. anything, ido guarantee you that will enter into their calculation. fear is they have made their determination and they're going to continue. i guess we will find out. in terms of opposition groups, when you degrade assad, you are benefiting the opposition. i think the bulk of that energy is with sunni supremacists. it is difficult to figure out
where everybody is. there was a quote when we were evaluating libya you said we did not know who all of the people were in eastern europe. if you asked lafayette the question if he knew everyone over here when he helped us, i think you have to have a sense of the course of history and what they are fighting for. do you stand by that quote? we have seen with the arab spring, we have seen the reaction to going into afghanistan. what is the animating impulse in these muslim countries? there was a comment about the tro-western government. not seen any evidence to suggest that would be the primary impulse motivating the people. i fear what would motivate them would be the muslim brotherhood,
sunni islam is him, her groups. that is the sense of history a lot of us see. groups.ism, terror that is the sense of history a lot of us see. >> very good question. the answer is there are some really bad actors in some of these groups in syria. they are really bad. there are a couple of other groups some people characterize as worse. one of the things that is concentrating the president's thinking about syria and the reason for supporting the opposition is to have a buttress against those folks who, if syria continues to move in the direction it has been going, if there is an implosion, they will be strengthened. there will be more of them.
this is something that does bring russia and the united states together. putin discussed their concerns about the extremist. syria, traditionally, in recent years, has been a secular country. the vast majority of the have aion is hopeful to very different syria, a syria that has minority rights protected, that is inclusive. that is what the opposition has committed themselves to and is talking about wherever they go in the world. i hope you will recognize the best way to isolate that --remist opposition is to the extremist components, is to rapidly build up the opposition
and diminish assad's capacity. >> joaquin castro of texas. >> thank you for your service and your testimony today. there has been a lot of strong arguments made on both sides in favor of taking action and against taking action. i had a chance to hear 1500 comments from social media post and e-mails, calls, etc. recap, i have boiled it down to the big arguments. there is a moral imperative because of the use of chemical weapons. repeat to prevent a behavior. repeat action will others. the u.s. reputation is on the line. we need to show we are not bluffing. and that the world can count on our word. and the effect on our allies. the arguments include that this war is not worthwhile. both sides.tremist
america should focus on its own problems. military action will have no effect. these actions are not enough to change things. military action will make things worse. there will be collateral damage. war.ill lead to more we should take alternative action. we should try diplomacy or do this with a coalition. and that it is too expensive and america should focus on its own issues at home. decision, iis publicly stated in san antonio, the town i represent, i am open to the idea of military strikes but i want to review the evidence. that is where i stand today. i have a few questions for you. if we act militarily or decides
not to. what is the policy we are establishing or the precedent what willtant for me, this mean for future generations andmericans, generation x, americans that have not been born yet? where will that leave america? corrects those are very appropriate considerations. each of the ones you have listed. where will we be? not establishing a precedent. we would be upholding a precedent. upholding the unbelievably committed, global reaction to to theror of world war i use of gas rampantly and to the world's condemnation, the fact over 180 countries have signed on to this convention.
we would be upholding it. from the perspective of the baby boomers, whatever you want to assign us a concept, i think it is a vital statement about , international commitment to norms by which you, your generation in the future generations would want to live. would hope this is something you would support because it is a matter of values and interest 's coming together in an appropriate manner. i think the absence of our willingness to enforce that would be dangerous for our country for the long-term. >> what president do we set if we don't act? knighted states of america, it would be an unusual itunited states of america, would be an unusual statement of
our willingness to uphold something we have fought for and been a part of a long time. i think we would be walking away from a responsibility and signaling a new moment of confrontation and difficulty for a country and many other respects on many other issues. >> do you feel it would start to change our role in the world? >> it would change the perception of our willingness to live up to its traditional role in the world than they would have a profound impact on people's judgments about what we are willing to stand up for. i caution you politely and humbly, i believe very deeply it other contests of conflict that will put us to the test with potentially graver consequences. mr. doug collins of georgia. >> i thank you for being here and i thank you for your service and i associate myself with the
representative quite. -- from hawaii. you hear a lot of things and you can get a lot of questions. steal theing to thunder of others that make come but what i have heard today concerns me. i walked into this hearing concerned about the actions we are taking. i am still there. many of them have to do with military questions and the questions that come from the statements, such as secretary hegel, there is no clarity on the ground. there is no good options. this leads me to an understanding of the limited involvement, which has been talked about over and over. statementd not, your a moment ago leaves an open ending. there is another volley that would come if it did not achieve the and.
just a few questions on this issue. according to the assessment that information suggested a possible chemical attack was imminent on august 21. through wednesday of the 21st there were syrian chemical weapons personnel in the area. the report says prior to the signalshere were human showing the assad regime preparing for a chemical weapon attack. , did theours notice u.s. military not take action or quickly enough to convene the un security council? why did we not act knowing the history? why was there nothing done? >> that information is not real- time in terms of the way it comes in. it goes through a process.
you really now have concerned me even more our intelligence operations, without getting into a discussion, we are finding out after the fact. engagement to take out the operation or the engagement of the chemical weapons, what is the confidence level? sayshould i or anybody else there is a concern our intelligence is not real-time enough to answer your question? >> different kinds of intelligence, sir. as you probably know, there are signals, which are what you are referring to, full motion video, e means that allow us to establish pattern of life. that theis a concern initial assessment could be wrong.
ofre seems to be a lot thought to this is a one strike. although i am getting rumor, not rumor, the discussion of a 30 day, 40 day window. that is the concern i am having. are we going to throw a shot across the bow, that is not we we are looking at. are we saying this could be a sustained attack? without telegraphing, that is a concern. i will stop it there. that is a concern many should have. in this atmosphere also, very after the initial gas anti---we upped our ante. how much of that got their? how much of that assistance is making a difference? others have said we have not
been able to get the equipment to them. we have made a difference but not as much as we would like. i do not want to go into details. cracks in light of what we are doing i in kid is pertinent information -- in what we are doing i think it is pertinent information. cracks it is because it was not authorized until a couple of months ago. we are just getting up on it. if we break it, we own it. >> we did not break it. >> i understand. one quick question. when you saide this. i'm going to give you a chance. basically you said the reason we are acting now is the level of death and the carnage had risen to a level where you felt like you needed to act. what you just said a few minutes
ago was we had to have a lot of bodies to make a compelling case and that one did not matter. i do not believe that is what you meant. if we are doing this because of death, one would matter. >> i appreciate that. i don't want to leave any misinterpretation. we had arst instances lot of difficulty getting a lock down on the level of intelligence that made everybody comfortable. partly because it was a smaller venue. there was not the kind of immediacy, social media, other things we have here. signatures and so forth. we did not have it. in this instance we do. it happens to be an even more egregious of event. the body #not the distinction it is the comfort level. and then at that point the
president did not want to rush into something. >> these are the things that caused my concern. thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for your patience here at this hearing. i want to ask you specifically with hezbollah and their involvement. if there was an intent on their to the gain access intelligence on chemical weapons, would, under the authorization, the president as an you see them acceptable target for having the ability to acquire or attempting ?o acquire rocco >> i don't want to -- >> would it be covered under the authorization? iran,does not apply to
hezbollah. it is not entity specific. it is with respect to the assad 's possibilityime of chemical weapons and solely focused on the degrading and preventing of use by the assad regime. engagedare we actively in to make sure that they are not gaining access to these chemical weapons to be used in another theater? >> general, do you want to take this? >> whether they even want any part of chemical weapons, and if so what might the the instrument , but that really would be classified. >> if syria transfer their chemical weapons to a state- the receivingity
would not be an action from us? externally from us. there is evidence that both iran and hezbollah have opposed the use of, for weapons. >> let me go further. your quote was, do we mean what ?e say gec newwe going to start a foreign-policy where we truly mean what we say? mentionedand, you there were 11 other events where gas or chemical weapons were used in serious and yet we've .one nothing when we start to look at that, is that a new day for foreign- policy when we start to say something and draw a red line
that truly is a red line? otherh respect to those incidents, this is an intelligence community assessment. >> this is not new intelligence. we have known this for many months. >> congress, i know this. and talkingarguing about it last year. >> i read your reports. of the evidence, the level of the event, people were uncomfortable with the that it calls for action but it did not necessarily rise to the level of what the president has decided. >> what is that level? 1000 deaths? 80 to require actions or it doesn't. it either require actions or it doesn't. >> what was that they? i think
some of them were prior to that. a steady -- n >> we can go back to august of last year. >> and there was a steady effort by the administration and others to send messages and they were sent very powerfully to the russians and they were sent directly to iranians. the messages were sent. >> today we are talking about military action. of thoseere is a sense efforts being exhausted and this being a remedy of last resort. >> when can our enemies and our allies depend on us to take action when we have these kinds ? things that happen >> when the house passes the request for this resolution. >> as it relates to syria and everybody else? about everybody else
and internationally. >> we have proven our word good on everything the president said he was going to do. in iraq andg down afghanistan. we're working on the middle east peace process. prosecutetinuing to al qaeda, yemen, elsewhere. we have decimated them in pakistan. we're working on a bilateral security arrangement. these are are things that are all going on. these broad sweeping assessments don't actually do justice to what is happening. >> ted yoho of florida. >> thank you for enduring the length of time here and i hope you men are men of ray are and that we seek guidance and wisdom as we work through this. i agree with many of my colleagues. our foreign-policy is confusing to the world. that is why i think we're sitting here today. the primary role as national
security. i do not see a direct threat to the u.s. from the internal civil war in this area, as deplorable as it is. i think it is despicable, but byt about the 108,000 killed conventional warfare? be one of would attacking a sovereign nation, a nation that did not attack us and an act of war. if we start work, we invite more, do we not? i and the people i represent said in not just know but something like, heck no. don't get involved. d.c. debussy in agreement signed by 189 countries says that the or createansport chemical weapons are in
violation. they're possibly supplying them with chemical weapons. maybe iran or china. there are probably other nowtries so we have to act and do we act in totality? do we act now? once you stop, and this goes back to our confusing foreign- policy, it was a red line, it was not a red line. i just think we need clarity. i want to know where the 188 countries are that signed the agreement. if demanding that we come to the table on one side and mr. assad on other. i employeeor -- review and administration to find a diplomatic solution because all i have heard his military intervention. i know you have talked about that weic solutions and supply the majority of the foreign aid around the world so we need to demand people come to
the table and this is a moment in time, and history, where america can lead a new direction for a coalition of countries 188 who signed can issue a political and diplomatic solution. it is time for a new foreign- policy. if we can win this and it can be one with diplomacy are not guns and bombs, senator kerry, yesterday you said you could not guarantee that u.s. troops would not be on the ground. >> i guaranteed that they would not be and i guaranteed that today. >> i have the transcript right here. >> i clearly said there would be no boots on the ground. >> even if the weapons fell into the hands of the bad people? nothing whatsoever -- >> thank you. usage we would need thousands of
of support troops on the ground. you did not say in syria but close by. where would they be? >> not related to this resolution. that is related to whether or not we took a position to support the opposition. briefingy i read this as of two days ago it says in syria. >> no. >> do we have supported and authorization from turkey to use their air bases? or can that not be diebold's? >> that is something we should talk about and a classify the setting. with jordan and others. >> the world resolve for the international community, is there a doctrine that the u.s. should lead in moral conflicts. why is america always out on? i know we have the best military, but why are we out leading this again? >> let me answer that. mr. chair, i have to take more than 40 seconds to do it because
it is a final questions for americans and this issue. congressman, i wish the world for a little more simple. cold war.in the i think all the busted. it was pretty east-west, and that is all the world we live in today. when the berlin wall fell, so thatll of the things tamped down a lot of sectarian, religious, and other conflicts in the world. we are one week away from 9/11 commemoration. 9/11 happened because there were uncovered spaces in which people who wanted -- ungoverned spaces who were opposed to modernity wanted to attack us and they did. people, and making judgments about how to keep our country safe, make the judgment
that there are a lot of folks out there who are committed to violent acts against lots of different people because that's what they want to do. we have to defend ourselves differently today and work to deal with these issues in a different way than we ever have before. we do have direct interest in what's happening in syria. there is a direct interest in our credibility with respect to this issue and you ask the question, why does the united states have to be out there? -- have youbearers ever been to the cemetery in ?rance by those beaches why did those guys have to do that? up withwe were standing people for a set of values and fighting for freedom and no country has liberated as much
land or fought as many battles as the united states america and turned around given it back to the people who lived there and you can own it and run it. we are the indispensable nation. this is because of who we are and what we have achieved. we should be proud of it. we have a great tradition to try oflive up to in terms looking for a peaceful road. not a road of jihad is him -- jihadism. the moderate arab world, not religious extremists, they count on us to be able to help them transition. that is part of what the arab spring is about and it will not end quickly. it will not be over just like that. rm struggle for freedom took a long time. we need to have a longer view here. when he did think about the ways in which we can protect ourselves and i guarantee you if we do not stand up against chemical weapons in this
instance we are not serving our national security interest. >> we go now to mr. luke messer of indiana. you, mr. chairman. someone has to go last and today that is me. thank my colleagues for sitting on the front row with me and thank you for the chairman to calling us back for what i think is very important work. thank you for your service and stamina today. we are entering almost the fourth hour of this hearing. i appreciate and respect the president's decision to bring this matter of authorization before congress. ofas one of a broad group 150 who signed onto a letter who requested that. the president heating that request and i understand the legal arguments about whether or not it was necessary for him to do that. i would associate myself with
congressman fairey's comments that it is now been made and the brought this before congress. i believe it is very important that the president abide by that vote. i will not revisit all of the other questions that others have asked today. make that comment does someone who, if i had to vote today on whether or not to authorize force against syria under the circumstances presented before me, i would vote yes. the people of good conscience can come to a conclusion based on the facts and there is no somber responsibility -- no more sober responsibility than to send men and women into contact. the facts as i see them is that chemical weapons were used,
clearly our allies like israel believe action is needed. clearly evil dictators in iran and north korea elsewhere watched and undoubtedly an action embolden them. i am no fan of this this president's foreign policy, frankly. i believe that mismanagement over the course of the last several years have made problems since syria worst, but i want to you andoint to all of it may lead to a question, but it is just simply this. belief, they president and the three of you as a team having a lot of work to do to explain the necessity for this action with the american people. much of what you say the american people understand. there all aghast at
atrocities that occurred in syria. to watchoes not like believes stand by and do evil things to their people, but the american people and parents of lee -- inherently understand there are high risks to action here. if i were to make a suggestion, we have a lot of work to do to help the american people understand why the risks of action are less than the risks of inaction. question i would ask is this -- what more can be done to further communicate with the american people? will the president make a speech from the oval office and one of the coming evenings? >> i have no doubt the president will. >> i have no further questions. >> one minute remaining.
>> i think we just want to thank again the colleagues for taking the time to come back. we're not going to disagree with takehat we do not need to advantage of these next days to communicate to our fellow americans about why this is so critical. i would just leave you with this . general dempsey and i, he is correct when he says technically something may be an act of war and i understand what he's saying but i don't believe we are going to war. i just don't believe that. going to war is mobilizing a force, asking people to join up, committing troops on the ground, fighting to win. that's not what we are doing here. asking for permission, the president is asking for permission to take a limited but one action, yes,
that does not put americans in the middle of the battle. no boots will be on the ground whereby we enforce a standard of behavior that is critical to our troops, critical tour country, critical to the world and -- if ,ou look at with the option is if you don't want more extremism , then you should vote for this. to not vote for it is to guarantee the continuation of this kind of struggle that will encourage extremists. somewill even encourage friends of ours to support them in order to achieve their goal of removing assad. that will make the region far, far more dangerous and it will increase the humanitarian crisis. you will see more refugees, more pressure on our friends, the jordanians particularly, and more threat to israel in the
process, more threat to lebanon in the process. urge, do notsimply send a message to someone like will now-assad that he have impunity because the one country that can lead this effort, that is the indispensable nation is going to walk away from this responsibility. i think the american people know when you say, do you want to go to war, of course not 100% we don't want to go to war. we are not going to war. we are taking an action that is in our national security interest in order to enforce a long-time standard. if that is not enforced, the world will be less safe and our citizens, no matter where you live in this country, will be less safe because the likelihood is greater that somebody somewhere will get their hands on those materials as a result of our inaction.
thank you, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of the committee, i want to take the opportunity to thank all three of you for what has been a long but productive and i think certainly a necessary hearing here today before the house. that the statek and defense departments be prepared to respond promptly to the request from the committee, requests from our members as the continue to weigh weighty decision on whether to to authorize the use of military ability tost assad's use chemical weapons. the hearing stands adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
day of nearly four our hair rings for secretary kerry, secretary hegel, and general dempsey, joint chief. senate foreign relations committee passed their resolution and we will tell you more about that in just a bit. we will open up our phone lines to hear from you on the issue. here's how to participate.
if you were a democrat, the number is -- four republicans -- for all others -- make sure to turn on your television or radio when you call in. nchat and we#cspa will read a number of tweets. facebook.com/c-span. this one here says -- more of that coming up and more. if you call in, we will take you to a conversation we had with a reporter in paris today. the french national assembly
debated the use of military force. we spoke to a reporter for not paid a short while ago. covering the french national assembly, and their debate over serial for publications like the atlantic. what did the assembly debate on ?yria today >> they debated the merits of france intervening along a with its closest ally. the debate started with a series of speeches, first up with the prime minister of france and he thatp the strong case confronted by barbarism that this cannot be an option.
they will be waiting for the votes in congress on september 9 and nothing will happen before then. there waiting for congress. what happens if they do not approve a resolution authorizing military force? it is not entirely clear yet but the government has suggested that they will not act alone without the united states added cider as a supporter of the united states. it has been said that if the congress rejected the proposition and it would take responsibilities and hand to help the opposition but at this stage, it is really a waiting game. addressedvery soon the nation but it maybe in a few days when it has been worked out and ifnd of coalition
there will be other europeans involved. france is the only prominent european nation that is on board with barack obama. click the headline was "france, awk."nexpected new hot eiderlande is known as an down. a place to pull the blanket over necessarily not launch reforms, but on the international front, he was incted and the started january with the invasion of
molly -- mali. that was to pull back the hold of islamicists and other allies in the region. france was acting ostensibly with not a lot of material support. has beens, hollande speaking out against syria. i do think france has been unfairly maligned since the iraq appeasing nation when it comes to foreign policy. it's not really the case. they just did not believe there were weapons of mass destruction and therefore they did not join the coalition. >> back to syria, what is the for militaryn like
action by the france or anyone? french citizens want them to vote on the question of intervention. of the survey really shows that the majority wants the to back aions coalition. they want them to be behind any vote.f hand, theer socialists that are in power are united on this question so ancois while -- friends hollande has not guaranteed a
vote and he has the right to proceed without a vote. >> emma-kate symons from "the atlantic" and " the financial review." thank you for the update. that congress is back on monday, september 9, not necessarily a vote but a vote on the resolution is likely next weekend a vote did come up in the senate foreign relations committee on the amendment resolution dealing with syria. here is the headline. 7 they approve the measure. we will show you the debate and the vote from earlier today in our program schedule here on c- span but let's get to your calls, windsor, california.
what proof is there that he used chemical weapons? they were inspecting former chemical bepons attack and it would absurd for assad to make another chemical weapons attack. outr trying to figure what's going on in iraq. we have had more deaths there and this month alone and the main goal there was just to .eally get the control is it not jpmorgan chase controlling the iraq central bank right now? carolina.om south caller: this is a cover-up for all of the scandals that have been on the front page that they're trying to put on the back burner.
he is putting them in a very .ulnerable position what's going to happen if the jumps and, -- iran russia, anyone? if israel gets hit, what do we do? what if they cannot handle it, then what? the regis down by? we are going to have to get around this if it escalates in any, shape, or form. chat on twitter.
again, #cspanchat. washington on the independent line, hello susan. caller: and ringing up a comment that i don't think anyone has -- i am just bringing up a comment that i don't think anyone has brought up. baday the 13th, which is luck, but it is also young to poor -- yom kippur. war betweene was a theel and syria in egypt, seven day war. that to me is not a coincidence. like, we really need to think about this and look at all of our options.
we have already gone and everywhere over there. we just got through with iraq and afghanistan. that's enough bombing for a while. we really need to take care of people here at home. we need to take care of home first. how many times would canada go to war? they don't and they are doing just fine. egyptre is a story about in today's "the hill." obama officials are recommending his top aide to egypt. obama is weighing a plan that suspends all foreign military
assistance except funding that helps provide the security. eddie in chester, virginia. we are seeing this from the democrats and the independent and now from the conservative side. i cannot understand the purpose of the u.n. if they are not going to be the ones to take .ction once again, it is always us going in. if we're going to stand above , we need tor treaty let the world know as to what the amounts are too when we take action on it.
we were completely aware that chemicals were used and at that time that is when americans would support this. at this point it has become a .astime the importance is now therefore the administration but not on the public's side. >> secretary of state john kerry in his opening statement debunked the idea that there would be further involvement in the u.s. and that this is not a resolution to go to war. >> let me be very clear. when i walk into this room, a stood up conscience behind me has is the ability of people in their country and that person said, "please, don't take us to another war." i think the three of us sitting here understand that as well as anyone in this country.
let me be clear. we are not asking america to go to war. i say that sitting next to two whatiduals who well know war is and there are others here who know. we all agree that there will be no american boots on the ground. the president has made crystal clear that we have no intention .f assuming responsibility that is not in the cards. that is not here. the president is asking only for the power to make certain that the united states of america is asking for authorization, targeted and limited to determine and degrade bashar al-
use chemicalty to weapons. now, i will make it clear for those who feel that more ought , clearly the degradation of the capacity to use those weapons as the impact on the weapons available. just today before coming in here, i read an e-mail about the former assistant minister of defense to havs just defected. this is because of the potential that we might take action. that is not the principal purpose of what the president is asking you for. >> back to your comments and calls on a possible military strike against syria. -spanchat
problem is with the israeli's government paranoia. a government is corrupt. they would love us to take over and middle eastern country that they don't like in order to be happy. if china or russia was to poison their own people, i bet you any money we would not attack them. we are only attacking countries in the middle east that israel does not agree with your does not like in reference to their president or whoever is in charge. israel doesn't like them? we take them out for them. >> we get to long beach, california. caller: thanks for taking my call. regardless of the saudi's willing to finance this war, which i think is misleading, you on this.t a price
this is not a civil war. this is a terrorist war. you have terrorists brought in trying tover overthrow this government. ands none of our business fore is no solid evidence the assad regime apart from what has been said in the mainstream media. >> no solid evidence on the chemical attack? caller: they have hair samples that contains chloride and stuff. if you really look at it, that is like a precursor to making secn gas, according to
retary kerry. should we be attacking toothpaste? we're just putting our nose where it does not belong. >> and other caller on the democrats line. caller: how are you doing today? a couple quick points to make. i would take a couple issues with secretary kerry. when one country fires missiles at another that usually indicates an act of war. don't know how the administration is trying to define this limited action and in contravention of history. if you fire missiles, that is an act of war. i did not hear any of the ofators asked the question
what happens if has the lock, iran, were serious decides to attack u.s. equities elsewhere in the world -- or syria decides to attack? discuss not adequately escalation and what it would mean for the united states. from joshe tweak here with newsweek and the daily beast. we will show you that debate just a bit later in the schedule here on c-span. we will lead to the quick comments from senator mccain who released a statement after the in part thatad these amendments are vital to ensuring that any military operations are part of a broader strategy to change the momentum on the battlefield in syria. that is what john mccain had to say after the senate foreign relations vote. next up, the opening statements
from today's house foreign affairs committee beginning with the chairman, ed royce of california. >> welcome, secretary kerry. meet to weigh the obama administration's proposed military response to the syrian use of chemical weapons. i want to thank secretary carey, secretary hegel, and chair of the joint chiefs of staff general dempsey for joining us today. thank you to attending this hearing on such short notice. the decision this past weekend to seek an authorization of military force from congress was not anticipated but it was welcomed. this committee has no greater than overseeing the deployment and use of the united states armed forces. since the administration of john
adams, congress has acted several times to authorize the use of military force by the president. one different thing here is that the administration's proposal supports a u.s. military response against a country in civil war. needless to say, this complement -- complicates this consideration. there all frustrated by lack of support. even though this aims to uphold the international norm, there is no united nation resolution of support nor nato backing. the president's views on the syrian regime as a way to strengthen deterrence against the future use of, the weapons by assad and by others, that is an important consideration. bad actorsoo many out there. countries like iran are watching
. yes, a credible threat is key to putting the brakes on the nuclear program. there are concerns. action ofent promises limited scope and relation but the assad regime would have a say and what happens next and that would be particularly true as president obama isn't aiming to change the situation on the ground. what are the chances of escalation? our different scenarios accounted for? if our credibility is on the line now, what about if assad retaliates? skeptical. this is fueled by ethnic, cultural, tribal issues. the policy does not build confidence.
initially, the obama w assad as ann sau enforcer. policy got on a moscow and the thought that russia would play a role in predictably, that has not worked. drew, in hisma words, a red line yet only last week did the administration begin to consult with congress on what that means. today, the house begins formal president'sn of the request to use military force in syria. it is cliché but true. there are no easy answers. syria and much of the middle east are a mess. we look forward to a thorough and deliberate discussion today one reflecting the gravity of
the issue and i will now turn to ranking member angle who has been ringing the alarm bell on syria for a long, long time. ranking member angle from new york. >> thank you very much mr. chairman for holding this hearing today. secretary kerry, welcome. look forward to this hearing which addresses the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons in the threat to the national security interests of our allies. i have been following the middle east for many years and i spent an enormous amount of time on syria. of sea. accountability act 2003, which i authored, as the landmark statement of policy towards syria and imposed sanctions on damascus due to his chemical weapons and other .eapons of mass destruction ar
this would arm fully vetted members of the syrian opposition. years of experience, hours of hearings with u.s. and foreign officials. we have all seen the images of the lice let -- the lifeless bodies of at least 400 children up and they appear to have no outward physical all killed within the blink of an eye. these innocent civilians were sarin by sarah and gas -- gas outlawed by the chemical weapons convention of 1993. they have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that the assad regime is responsible for the use of these horrific weapons.
i strongly agree with president obama that united states must strike to this flagrant to deter the use of chemical weapons and grade the assad capability to use them again. we're talking about the ability of america as a global power. we are talking about sending a clear message to the dictators elsewhere thatd the u.s. backs its word of action. is watching to see if the united states is willing to stand up for its vital interests .n the region they are providing weapons, and supporting the intervention of the terrorist
proxy. according to the iaea they are using this to run. it ahead with capability. i believe that congress must authorize to use limited and i hope that congress will join me in issuing a statement. we must clarify that any strike nature that limited there must be no american boots on the ground in syria. it is critically important to hold the regime responsible, we must also focus on developing a larger strategy to address the anding humanitarian crisis ultimately find a path forward that brings a lasting peace to the syrian people.
we introduce legislation to increase amenity area and aid and authorize the president to provide lethal and nonlethal resistance.o the it is key to the future and we must redouble our efforts as .oon as possible many members on both sides of the aisle are struggling with the issue of using force in syria. we are all trying to do the right thing for our constituents , for our country, for national security. and i'mways difficult glad we are treating them with the utmost seriousness. askcourage my colleagues to himself these questions. we have to live up to our
commitments. mr. chairman, thank you for calling this important hearing and i'm worried to secretary cary and testimony of our other distinguished witnesses. >> thank you. this afternoon we are pleased to be joined by secretary of state john kerry and shortly we will be joined by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. prior to his appointment, john chairing the senate foreign relations committee for four years and without carry,on, secretary secretary hegel, -- kerry, hagel, and general dempsey will be made part of the record.
we have a nearly full committee with us here today and therefore we need to work within the time constraints that we have. we will ask all members to be time full of -- mindful of the timer as we ask questions. we begin now with secretary kerry's testimony. >> thank you very much. said, to all the members of the committee, i have enormous respect. returned to be a part of this debate and on be hard -- and on behalf of the american people, i thank you for doing so. i do not think, i know it is no
exaggeration to say that the world is not just watching to see what we decide here but to see how we decide. frankly, whether or not we can achieve a single voice speaking for the united states , congress, and the united states of america. they want to know whether or not america will rise to this moment , whether or not we will express our position with the unity that this moment demands. the question of whether or not to authorize force, as the chairman referenced my 28 years now, i had a number of occasions to make those votes in the number of other occasions to make judgments on presidents who acted without coming to congress. i found that we were and are always stronger when we can act together.
first and foremost, i think it is important to explain to the american people why we are here. and i don't think it can bear enough repetition as people grapple with this at the end of summer, post-labor day, kids going back to school, and a lot of other concerns on their mind. we are here because against the multiple warnings from the president and the united states, warnings from congress, many of you, warnings from friends and allies, and even warnings from russia and iran that chemical weapons are out of bounds, against all of that the assad regime, and only undeniably the assad regime, unleashed an outrageous chemical attack against its own citizens.
we are here because a dictator and his family's enterprise, which is what it is, unleashed a poison in damascus that killed mothers and fathers and children, their lives all snuffed out a gas during the early morning hours of august 21. some people in a few places, amazingly, against all the evidence, have questioned whether or not this assault on conscience actually took lace. and i repeat again here today, unequivocably, only the most willful desire to avoid reality, almost the most devious political purpose could assert this did not occur as described or that the regime did not do it.
it did happen. and the bashar al-assad regime did it. i remember iraq. secretary hagel and general density both were member it. secretary hagel and i both voted in the united states senate. both of us are especially sensitive to never again asking any member of congress to vote on faulty intelligence. that is why our intelligence community took time. that is why the president took time, to make certain of the facts in this case and to declassify unprecedented amount of information in order to scrub and re-scrub the evidence and present the facts to the american people, and especially
to the congress. and through you to the american people. we have declassified unprecedented amount of information. some of it, i might add, because that might have been the instinct in protecting sources, and some of it leaked. after it leaked, we thought it was born to verify whether it was true or not. by now you have heard a great deal from me and others in the administration about the comprehensive evidence we have gathered. i'm happy to discuss it further if any of you have any questions. i can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt -- and i used to prosecute cases.
i ran one of the largest district attorney's offices in america. i can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence proves the assad regime prepared this attack and they attacked exclusively opposition- controlled or contested territories. at some point in an appropriate setting you will learn additional evidence which came to us even today, which further documents the acknowledgment of various friends of the assad regime that they know that this happened. our evidence proves that they used sarin gas that morning and it proves they used some of the world's most heinous weapons to kill more than 1400 innocent people including at least 426 children. i'm sure many of you have seen the images yourselves. the men and women, the elderly, and children sprawled on a hospital floor, no wounds, no blood, in chaos and desperation around them. none of which could possibly have been contrived. all of that was real.
we have the evidence. we know what happened. there is no question. this would meet the standard i which we send people to jail for we are here because of what happened. we are also here, not just because of what happened two weeks ago. we are here because of what happened almost a century ago. in the darkest moments of world horror of gashe warfare, when the majority of the world came together to declare in no uncertain terms that chemical weapons crossed the line of conscious and must be banned. over the years that followed, 184 countries, including iran, iraq, and russia, joined the chemical weapons convention.